William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Everything and Nothing

Nothing

I have not been myself lately, said the wind. Nor I, said the mountain. The shepherd boy, who had been listening, took up his flute. When he was an old man, he put it down again and died. And the wind rushed, and the mountain blushed, to the depths of the canyon.   Nothing I said to my mother, I said to my father, “I have nothing to do.” To […]

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Overheard

It might be said that those who laugh at beginners are afraid to begin themselves. But this fear is also a beginning. It might be said that those who rush to lavish praise on masters of their respective callings and crafts, are not aware that these same masters understand that in the face of so much beauty and immensity they are beginners still, and feel this is natural. It might […]

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Cold Notes

In the ground a year now, our little apricot tree has seen its share of weather. From its simple beginning as a stick in the mud with a few roots to hold it down, it made good progress during its first summer, and, growing late into the fall, it needed several frosts to persuade it to let go of its yellowed leaves. Then came rain, hail, and snow. It has […]

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The Hat Rack

My Uncle Before the War

After the grapes were all in and the raisins were picked up, boxed, and hauled away, my father’s attention turned to fall cleanup and house-painting chores. Always busy, everything in its right time and season. Oil-based, lead-based work. Paint thinner. Fumes. Open windows. Worried flies. The kitchen walls, the washroom — they stand out, as does the hat rack his older brother built before he was killed in the war. […]

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Slow Dance

And what of school? I remember our sturdy little desks in rows, bright, flat crayons, and how their taste resembled their smell, jars of glue, the heavy-paper mess, girls with long straight hair and curls, their fragrant dress, the playground, races, marble games and spinning tops, climbing bars and tractor tires stood up in the ground. And, not far off, in a cloud of dragonflies and dust, a country graveyard […]

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For Bugs and Birds and Words and Lovers

Over the years, I’ve written a great many because poems — because I am alive, because I feel like it, because I have no idea what else I would, could, or should be doing with the moment at hand. “For Bugs and Birds and Words and Lovers” is one of them. But in light of this unnecessary confession, it seems pretty obvious that they all are.   For Bugs and […]

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Stars Are Eyes and Minds Are Mirrors

It should be clear by these pages that I lead a very simple, quiet life. For what do I write about, really, other than this little place I occupy, and the steps I take daily to traverse it? And yet, this little place is part of a much bigger place, and the bigger place is part of limitless space. And limitless space — who knows that it might not be […]

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Clouds

There are mornings when the mind has no particular need or desire for clarity. Or it might not be the mind at all; it might be the world that has no need or desire to show herself — as if she’s just out of the bath, her skin fragrant and naked and warm, and in no hurry to put on the day. How foolish the mind would be to say, […]

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Newborn

Our grandsons were here, together and warm in their grandmother’s chair, talking about football. I went out for a walk after supper. It was cold, but not too: twenty-nine degrees; still, but not blue: the breath of a breeze. The stars were out. The Big Dipper was standing on its end: pirouette. No one was out: no cat, nor dog, no cleared throat. Bare trees: ghosts: roses: smoke: fir is […]

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Necessity and an Ice-Water Bath

When we take more than we need, we take it from each other. And when we take it from each other, we steal. And what we steal, we waste, because it is more than we need. But the very crime is its punishment. It is poverty. It is war. It is a series of complicated political and religious beliefs that are no more than excuses. It is the unwillingness to […]

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