William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Collected Poems

What December Said to January

December is a wise old month — somewhat bitter in disposition, perhaps, but not without good reason, as so much of death is entrusted to its care. Its pride is earned, its beauty is often harsh, its lessons are many.   What December Said to January Let the record show I did not go willingly. Nor am I impressed by the ruse you call “The First,” which you use to […]

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Monastery of Psalms

Now bare and heading into its winter dormancy, our young grapevine is supported by a sturdy stake and a tall narrow decorative arch shaped like a thirteenth century church window. Early in the summer, I made a simple temporary arbor by attaching some twine to the metal frame, which I stretched up to a hook near the eave at the end of the house, ran back and looped around a […]

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Pumpkins

The stub of a candle in a rotting old pumpkin — let’s light it one more time — then watch brave autumn cave in on itself — and treasure the rind.   Pumpkins I love them best on frozen steps with sunken cheeks and moldy breath, abandoned. I love the rest in muddy fields, bright with age and ripe with next year’s children. I love them riding on a truck, […]

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Fall Questions

Is it confidence, or arrogance? If we are honest with ourselves and with others, if we are doing our best at whatever our work happens to be at the moment, if we are grateful and attentive and enjoying the health that sacred, lucky combination brings, why would we also need to feel confident, as if we hold, or are seeking, some advantage? Is it because confidence is universally praised, and […]

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At the Armenian Home

Even after his stroke and up to his death on January 6, 1990, at the age of ninety-three, my father’s father never did forget who we were. Many at the Armenian Home in Fresno, where he chose to spend the last few years of his life, weren’t as fortunate. This short poem was inspired by our visits there, and by the vineyards we used to pass on the way. “At […]

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A Larger Life

In his journal, around the year 1850, Thoreau writes of the gradual disappearance of wild apples, saddened by the realization that a generation hence, they would be virtually unknown in the land. They were planted anywhere it was thought they might survive — in odd corners, along roadsides, against walls — and left to fend for themselves — like us, it occurs to me now, a lesson in abundance and […]

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To French Vanilla and All the Other Flavors

Someday, perhaps, the unhappiest and most destructive of our kind will simply be loved by the rest of us into grace — caressed, as it were, by the whole human race. Now, look at the face. Look, and then ask yourself: Am I willing to love? Or am I above such tragic disgrace? And: If I am above, how came I to be so unlike the truth I proclaim — […]

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Revelation

I’m a fictional character of my own making. I’ve lived this fiction all my life, adding to it one thought, one word, one sentence, one page at a time. And while it isn’t my intention to deceive, or to create a world of make-believe, by the very process of living I do create such a world. This is my reality. And a beautiful one it is, because it includes you […]

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The Enigmatic Child

Maybe you really can make something of yourself, as the time-worn advice goes, or threat, or promise, or admonition, depending on who says it or thinks it and under what circumstances, including you and your own. Maybe you really can become something or someone, a person worthy of respect, and on, and on, and on. I don’t know. It all seems rather strange to me. In a way, isn’t it […]

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My Old Black Sport Coat

Today is our eldest grandson’s eleventh birthday. This poem was written not long after he was born. The coat in question is a thirteen-dollar woolen thrift store affair. I bought it in 2001 to wear to a wedding. It was made in Hungary. I liked it so much, and it held up so well, that I wore it regularly for a good dozen years, until it finally gave out. But […]

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