William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

The Old City

If I am correct about the year, I first read Dostoevsky in 1984, on an airplane bound for Israel and the old city of Jerusalem. I had bought a paperback copy of The Brothers Karamazov, not quite aware at the time that I was beginning at the end, with what is considered the great writer’s crowning achievement. I read for several hours from Los Angeles to New York, and then again on the way to Tel Aviv. I finished during the week I was in Jerusalem, while staying in the Armenian Quarter, in a room at the seminary at the Monastery of St. James. Or, I might have finished on the way home, or shortly after my return. After that, I began to seek out the work of Dostoevsky. I was reminded of this a few minutes ago, when my eyes chanced to rest on the leather-bound copy of Crime and Punishment I found many years ago at Goodwill. I first read that tale in a paperback “Bantam Classic” edition, then in its third printing, published in 1982. I soon began to think of the author as a friend. I felt the same way about Guy de Maupassant, whose collected works are perched high atop a shelf in this room behind the leather Crime and Punishment, in seventeen well-worn volumes published in 1903.


A Carol for Another Christmas (1964) — a powerful, prescient film for television by Rod Serling. (See also under Peter Sellers, as “The Imperial Me.”)

The Old City, as seen from the wall by men watching over it with guns. The Old City, as seen from inside on the ground, to the tune of a thousand bells. I was an olive tree once, but it was for only a few hundred years. The Old City, seen from the Cross, seen from the knees.

December 24, 2021.


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