William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

An Absurdist Play

The stage isn’t really a stage; but then again the sky isn’t the sky either, unless there happens to be a light rain falling, dripping from a pine or from the edge of a tall gray building. Dawn, or at least a suggestion of it. Reminder: Talk to the person who handles the lighting. The cast consists of two characters, who for the entire play alternate between looking skyward and […]

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Canvas 1,221

Canvas 1,221

  Surely you can imagine the street, the stones, the carriages, the table, the coffee, and the coming revolution. Or maybe you’re just thinking about an old friend, because today is his birthday. You remember sitting near the curb, beneath a tree, and how your cup somehow became full of tiny spring spiders, but not his. And then, the last time you were to meet, you waited alone, not knowing […]

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As Is

Written in 2015 and first published as a standalone blog, I refer affectionately to As Is as a “free-form essay” without quite knowing what the term means. The piece, divided into nine parts, or verses, is as much poem as it is essay, as much memoir as it is poem, and as much a celebration of life and language as all three. Its several references to Stephen, Mary, and my […]

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Letter to Walt Whitman, and Walt Whitman’s Reply

Following are companion entries from the first volume of Songs and Letters, written and posted on consecutive days in April 2005. I don’t pretend they are important in any way, or even very good; heartfelt, yes, and certainly revealing; but as to what they reveal, I will humbly, gratefully leave to you. Gone are the days wherein I would be embarrassed by something I’ve written. Ample are the times I […]

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The Poem I Wrote Is Glad It Missed the Train

The poems grouped here were written in a nine-day period near the close of 2007 and comprise the whole of Volume 17 of Songs and Letters. To me, each word they contain is a kind of love letter. Is it any wonder, then, that, by the very act of reading them, I imagine you tying a ribbon around the whole sweet bundle?     The Oldest Poem The oldest poem, […]

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The Asylum Poems

The Asylum Poems came into being in 2007 while I was taking care of my mother, who was battling Alzheimer’s Disease. The cycle of twenty short poems comprises the whole of Volume 15 of Songs and Letters, a much larger work begun in 2005 and completed in 2009. The poems were written early in the morning at my mother’s house, in a small bedroom facing the overgrown backyard. Fir trees, […]

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If Not Tomorrow Then Today

This poem was written early in the morning one year ago today. It was published on Recently Banned Literature and shared on Facebook.   If Not Tomorrow Then Today Sometimes I think of the bodies of friends and loved ones motionless in their graves — my mother, my father, our old neighbor the beekeeper, and even our faithful old hounds — and I feel a beautiful harvest is in, call […]

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A Mouthful of Marbles

At 4:55 this morning I finished the third volume of Los Hijos del Pueblo: Historia de una Familia de Proletarios a Través de Veinte Siglos, por Eugenio Sué. Only one more volume to go. The first contains 1,150 pages; the second, 912; the third, 1,070; the fourth, 962. I read ten pages every morning while having my first cup of coffee. Sometimes, later in the day, when it’s too hot […]

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