William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Everything and Nothing

Idle

Another hour spent outside watering in the smoke, which is much thicker this morning than yesterday. The air, though, is noticeably cooler. The windy time has passed; I saw several spiders calmly working on their webs. I also heard the squawking of a scrub jay, and a brief exchange between nuthatches. A squirrel caught my eye; like an ordinary pedestrian, it was making its way along the sidewalk across the […]

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Present Sense

I expect to write as long as I’m mentally and physically able. I realize, though, it’s possible there may come a time when I no longer feel the need to write. My present sense of the matter is this: the longer I write, the nearer I come to the beginning; I am now in my childhood, working steadily towards infancy; the very moment I’m born, I’ll lay down my pen, […]

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Old Grandpa Moon

The poet who worries about not being read forgets one thing: his face accompanies him everywhere. moonlight on the vine and the sweet grapes left behind by that old raccoon . Old Grandpa Moon The whole great countryside was asleep. The night was clear and cold, and the stars were winking above the farmhouses and fields. But inside an old stone cottage, there was one little boy who could not […]

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Life and Renaissance

I met G.H.W. this morning while tending our garden. He stopped, per his daily habit, to rest on our retaining wall where it’s shaded by the juniper, cedar, and lilac. He’s eighty-four years old, walks several miles each morning, and collects cans for the ten-cent deposit. He doesn’t need the money. But the walk does him good, and he likes to talk to people along the way. Some think he’s […]

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Lips and Fingertips

Life is incredibly generous. It gives us each our abilities, perceptions, and experiences, along with endless opportunities to come together and share for our mutual benefit what we have learned. And though we often use this gift as a means to conquer or to otherwise gain some kind of petty advantage, life never changes its attitude towards us. It gives us children; it gives us love; it gives us a […]

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Once Upon a Rose Garden

It’s one thing to order the destruction of an historic rose garden; more tragic, though, is that there’s always someone willing to follow such orders, when the intelligent, logical thing to do is refuse: No — if you want to destroy something everyone holds in trust, do it yourself, with your own hands, for all the world to see. And if you’re worried about blisters, you might try a moral […]

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Dostoevsky and Van Gogh

Having fortunately lived long enough to finish reading all three volumes of Vincent’s letters, I have moved on to Dostoevsky’s Diary of a Writer, in Boris Brasol’s English translation, published in two volumes by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1949. After years of being away from Dostoevsky’s great novels and stories, coming upon him in the somewhat more casual, conversational mode of his periodical writings is much like having coffee with […]

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Empty Shells

We don’t plant our sunflowers, they plant themselves. Each year they’re different. This year almost all have multiple heads, a few with dark centers, most with light. Many have lateral growth, each branch ending with its own head or heads, some blooming all the way to the ground. And there’s one very rugged plant with only one head. The plant is about five feet tall, but now that its seeds […]

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Breath Coins

We spend our entire lives breathing, taking into our lungs and bloodstreams that which is outside the body; and yet a vast majority of us, despite this simple, obvious fact, see ourselves as something apart from nature. Deprived of air, the body dies. The body also requires water. Again, water that exists outside the body must be taken into the body in sufficient amounts, or the body dies. The same […]

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Mimosa

It was early in the morning on the last day of July — yesterday, in fact — that I noticed the scent of dried and drying grasses in the air, of ripening and spent seed — that distinct valley smell, leavened by dew and blent with the dust of harvested fields. That same day, a few hours later, we decided that the unidentified seedling in our cedar-and-juniper wilderness might well […]

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