William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

A Letter to the Boys

Yesterday afternoon I cleared the driveway of snow with one of the old manure shovels my father and grandfather used on the farm during the Great Depression and after the Second World War, and which we continued to use in later years, and which now reside, along with several other tools from that earlier time, in an old barrel in the little shed behind the house. While I was out, the temperature remained right around freezing. There was just enough warmth that blobs of snow fell occasionally from the cedar, but no water was dripping from the eaves. Bare feet in sandals, bare hands and fingers. After about half an hour, my toes were feeling a little bit cold; those on my right foot felt colder after I stepped inadvertently into a pile of snow by the mailbox when I was checking to see if anything had come. My fingers, though, never did feel cold — a good sign; or, perhaps, just the opposite. I brushed off the snow and swept the front step.

December 28, 2021


A Letter to the Boys

If gathered together,
the tiny bit of snow
on the neighbor’s rooftop
might only fill a cup.

And yet, scattered evenly
as it is, and being heavily
concentrated at the ridge,
it looks like a perfect dusting
of powdered sugar.

Early morning. Calm.
Half-frozen drops of water
arranged like beads
along bare branches.
Robins singing.
Patches of blue dragged
against their will
by dark clouds
toward the eastern hills.

When I go out today,
I will wear my heavy wool coat.
I will be crazy underneath,
a furnace of illogic,
a black kettle on to boil,
full of pungent greens.

The advertisements say,
Let us speak plainly now,
this is what you need:
A man is not a man
unless he is properly
scented and insured.
Invest in yourself.
Be unique, like others.

A black kettle on to boil,
full of pungent greens:
lungs like bellows,
a pair of legs and feet,
a solemn nod for
everyone I meet.

I would know you
if I saw you, boys.

I would know you
if I heard your voice.

I would know you
from across the street,
and in the wilderness
that intervenes.

But would you know me?
Or would you avoid
this tangle of noxious weeds?

Songs and Letters, March 9, 2006


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Categories: New Poems & Pieces, Songs and Letters

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