William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Everything and Nothing

The Door Swings In, The Door Swings Out

We had been away from the falls for several weeks. But when we returned to find them recharged by the rain, it was like a meeting of old friends, the kind of gathering one sees in the brick coffeehouses downtown, where tables are pushed together and chairs have coats draped over them like the ferns and moss that cling to the bare maples and line the canyon walls. Mist everywhere. […]

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Winter Work

Book by book I go, dusting, cleaning, reading, examining, inhaling, arranging. A library is a strange, quiet joy. It is good fortune, and in these times, when ignorance is vaunted, heralded, and prized, it is a reminder that wisdom and sanity are still alive in the world. And then when the rain stops, I put on even older clothes and go out and prune the fig tree, which, over the […]

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Moving Books Around

Jonathan Swift 1812-1813

At the moment there’s scarcely room here to sit, leave alone exercise free movement of my elbows. And while this is only a slight exaggeration, I’d best make no sudden moves, or I might topple the tall stacks of books everywhere around me, as the room is in a state of turmoil brought on by my decision to add two more tall bookcases, despite the fact that there’s no obvious […]

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Symphonies and Bridges — Two Poems

Another thing I’ve noticed while writing is that when the subject at hand brings something else I’ve written to mind, that something else is far less likely to be a piece from the last two or three years. For whatever reason, my thoughts drift back to older associations, as if the paths that take me there are more familiar and well worn. This could be a sign that my memory […]

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Wild Flowers Imagine the Rain

I suppose it would not be far from the truth if I were also to refer to this growing collection of oddities and notes as my papers, because I am definitely proceeding with the idea that everything that ever was and will be of lasting importance to me can be found in these pages. Each department is its own neatly labeled crate of material. All that’s missing, really, is a […]

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Five Years Ago

“William” — January 1, 2014

Truly an exercise in vanity, I liked this self-portrait so much back in 2014, I had a small canvas-print made. On a wall in this room, in a dimly lit place mostly hidden by books, it’s a private daily reminder of my foolish self-absorption, which I can only hope, and am in no way certain, I’ve outgrown. But for all that, the likeness is still a valid record of sorts, […]

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Sweet Kisses

Fifty years ago, when my father went to visit a farm neighbor dying of cancer, he heard him howling with pain the moment he entered our little hometown hospital. I was born in that hospital. When we were in high school, a close friend of mine died in that hospital. Three of our four children were born in that hospital. In that hospital, my appendix was removed. My wife worked […]

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What Are They?

The body at work — its processes humming, oxygen, the brain, the blood, the ebb and flow of star matter, day and night, moon shadows, waterfalls — and somehow, from somewhere deep in the tickled tissue and folds, there arises the familiar notion that I am bothered or inconvenienced, that I am in pain, that I am unfairly punished, that I am ennobled, to the point of addiction, the crutch […]

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Comfortable Assumptions

These entries, however poetic, abstract, direct, or imaginal they may be, also reflect my understanding of the science of the day. And that understanding, as extensive as it is, is really quite limited. It’s also full of comfortable assumptions, gaps, fictions, and inaccuracies. It is imaginal, abstract, direct, and poetic, like the interwoven fibers of a beloved old coat. Many years ago, my parents gave me a simple but beautiful […]

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Silence

Would I be a good public speaker? Even at my advanced age, I don’t know. I’ve never sought the opportunity, which might be a way of saying I’ve avoided it. And if I have avoided it, I’ve probably done so for the usual reasons: fear of failure, fear of making a fool of myself, fear of embarrassment. And if these are the reasons, they must have their origin somewhere in […]

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