William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Everything and Nothing

Genesis, 1962

My father always said that no one taught him to swim, that he simply jumped into the wide mossy ditch with all the other boys and learned then and there on his own. He did not say he had already learned by watching, while dancing naked with glee on the bank in the hot summer sun. Some of the same vineyards that were there in his childhood were there in […]

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Of Lives and Letters

The Life and Letters of John Muir

All too often, those of us who call ourselves writers speak of the books we read as if their very mention were an indication of our learning, depth, and worth. I speak about them because I love them, knowing full well that even after they are read, I will be at a loss to explain the profound or mean effect they have had on me, my understanding, and my thinking. […]

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You Think You Know Yourself

The assumption that it’s difficult is what makes it so. But then, so does any assumption at all.   You Think You Know Yourself You think you know yourself — then comes a word, a phrase, a night, a moon, an oak in rust on a time-worn hill, leaves, twigs, and cloud-debris, horseless riders faceless until they swing right in front of you — did you dream them or did […]

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Departure

As much as by touching, reading, and simply having them near, I think any poet would gain by the calm, deliberate practice of describing the scent of old books. To describe, in essence, what can’t be described, and yet must — this is his domain and his charge; to illuminate what is haunting, yet painfully familiar — this is why she was born; and then, when she dies, to haunt […]

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Ancient Blue

Year by year, the neighbor’s irises have crept like a floral glacier across the narrow path I maintain between his yard and our garden. This spring, they were so heavy with blooms, I had to prop them up to keep them from smothering our young tomato plants. It was a beautiful sight — so beautiful that sometime in July, if I am still living, I will dig and divide those […]

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Fewer Words

Q. Do you have any advice for writers? A. Yes.   Fewer Words Fewer words, and fewer still — until you find yourself rich pulp, seed blessed, sweet juice, expressed. Recently Banned Literature, July 13, 2015

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The Great Questions

Was I sand then? That’s what my father asked when he was a child listening to family stories that took place before he was born. The ritual began when his mother first told him, You were sand then. In time, he no longer needed to ask. He simply said, I was sand then. Born in 1923. Sand again.   The Great Questions The great questions, and as many stars or […]

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Bones

It is a petty kingdom that engenders fear and commands respect. It is a peaceful one that encourages hope, and acts with love. And that these kingdoms exist in the mind and heart, is what must first be understood. “Of Kingdoms” Recently Banned Literature, February 26, 2018   Bones Isn’t the news something these days? isn’t it always? wasn’t it when we were kids, and wasn’t it when we came […]

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Pumpkin

Last fall we brought home a small pumpkin and placed it on the front step. It sat out all winter beneath the shelter and remained firm and intact. Finally, earlier this spring, it softened at the bottom. I moved it to a garden spot within a few feet of the front door. It soon gave way in aromatic collapse. Now, in its place, after thinning a densely sprouted mass, there […]

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