William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

A Closed Mouth Catches No Flies

If you must have a hero, choose him well. Let him be someone who loves children and old people, and who has no blood on his hands. Better still, why not be a hero yourself? No investment is needed, only grace and truth.


A Closed Mouth Catches No Flies

What shall we do
with his long gray beard
and hair, the tattered coat,
this worn out shirt?

Should he wear his hat?
Maybe yes, maybe no,
to hide these creases
in his brow.

No need for flowers.
He preferred weeds.
Fiddlenecks and twisters,
purslane, nettles, henbit.

Lay his pocket knife
on his chest,
a lizard’s tail, rock,
or feather.

Put a book in his hand
to see him home,
a journey of many pages.
Musty, yellowed,
precious map of words.

He looks like he’s asleep.
If we turn our heads
or leave the room,
he’ll be up and gone.

Give him something
to write with.
Look in his pocket,
you’re sure to find a song.
A crazy love letter
to humanity,
or a peasant’s acerbic wit,
A closed mouth catches no flies.

Death, death, and more death.
A thousand lives he’s lived,
yet he’s laughing still.

Let’s put his cane beside him, too.
His shoes. His shoes.

They say he was a great man.
A poet. A troubadour of dreams.
And it’s plain to see.

Look outside.
A grand procession waits.
Stray dogs. Orphans. Prostitutes.
Laborers. Felons. Clerks.
Our very own children,
taken to the street.

Songs and Letters, February 17, 2006


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Categories: Songs and Letters

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