William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings


Whatever the medium or craft — music, language, carpentry, working with the soil — the virtuoso is, first and foremost, a life-long learner — a child in an aging body whose heart and mind are an image in kind of the flowering cosmos. If it were only a matter of skill, the word virtuoso wouldn’t have the meaning it does. The world would be overrun with them. And yet that, at least in part, is what the virtuoso is trying to express — that the flowering, by its very nature, is accessible to everyone and always within reach. It may be found in a grandmother’s kitchen or sewing room, or witnessed in a neighbor tending his garden. It may be in your mother’s secret late-night communion with a notebook she’s slowly filling with poems. There’s no end to its color and variety, no fast corners, nothing that’s measurable in any conventional sense. As such, it goes to the heart of love, which we instinctively recognize as the difference between merely possessing a high degree of skill, and sharing one’s gift with compassion and intelligence. The virtuoso doesn’t prove or demonstrate. The virtuoso is.


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Categories: Sweet Sleep and Bare Feet

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4 replies

  1. Our friend Glen Ragsdale was as you describe. I did not know that we both visited him during his illness but always at different times. I generally saw him in the evening. I hope you and your family are all well William.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re well, and it’s a treat hearing from you. Just the other day, we were talking about Glen, and you were mentioned in that conversation, when I wondered aloud if you had visited too. My visits were in the afternoons, and so regular that no one was surprised when I let myself in. It was a sad time, but beautiful too. Glen was full of humor, and his parents were hospitable and kind. And of course you will remember the showing of his paintings in the school cafeteria later on. We still have ours — the one my parents bought from him earlier on. You can see part of it on this page:

      Glen Ragsdale, Detail, 1973

      I’m glad you wrote. Thank you. Lots of good memories, from Wilson School days and beyond. We send our regards.


      • We have two of his works, a pirate portrait and a still life. My brother passed in April of 2019 and my niece now has a Basque man that appeared in National Geographic and they asked Glen to render it in his style and it is the same quality as your parents piece. I am leaving my career in June to work on the bucket list. If we found ourselves near you in Oregon we would like to stop in for a visit. I should have bought Fred Flea!…

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        • Ha! A shame we let that beauty out of our sight. I’m sorry to hear about Mark. I didn’t know. The Basque must be something. Ours was inspired by a tiny picture of an old man Glen had seen in a magazine. But the result was something completely original, and not really like the photo at all. When my father saw it, he immediately fell in love with it. He’s like a friend and a relative all rolled into one. Very well, then — good luck with that bucket list and we’ll be in touch.