William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Everything and Nothing

Dear Theo

It is perhaps not that strange in these virus times, to want to hurry and read something before I die — and yet there it is — the thought arrives unbidden — and so I set it down, not knowing whether it is prescient or the result of a life-long habit of fictionalizing my existence. The book in question consists of three volumes, and contains the letters of Vincent Van […]

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Counting Corners

Somewhere in the 444-page doorstop that I affectionately call One Hand Clapping, there’s an entry in which I am preoccupied with counting all of the corners in the house we were renting at the time. It ended up being an absurd number — but of course all numbers are absurd — at least I have always found them so. But that didn’t stop me from counting. The big rooms were […]

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Call and Response

Things are exactly as they should be — as they must be — all is simply a matter of natural, inevitable succession, as fluid as a river, with the river’s twists and turns — none are right or wrong, better or worse — the river is acting according to its nature, and is fulfilling itself at its own timeless pace, heedless of the sluices and dams in our thinking. Hold […]

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The E Train

“The E Train” is part of a very short-lived series of guitar notes. Now, almost eleven years later, I ask myself — which E string? The low, it appears. Or, Lo! It appears!   The E Train Fascinating. The harmonic at the ninth fret can also be played at the sixteenth, and the harmonic at the twelfth fret can be played at the nineteenth. And I’ve learned that if I […]

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The King’s English

When I was about ten or twelve, I had a ten-gallon aquarium. In it were zebra fish, little darting neons, tetras, a sword fish, an angel fish, a scavenger, and a bright and very friendly silver dollar — these were their names, at least as I recall them. The angel fish and silver dollar were small when we brought them home, but they grew rapidly, the angel fish becoming stately […]

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Troonk and Hamph

Among other things, in his journal entry for May 25, 1852, Thoreau mentions hearing the first troonk of a bullfrog — a lovely word, although I have for years spelled the sound hamph — this based on my recurring basso profondo imitation of bullfrogs heard while drifting with my father in his twelve-foot aluminum boat down California’s Kings River, in that lazy stretch below the town of Reedley where it […]

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Letters, Journals, and Poems

This afternoon I finished reading the third volume of Thoreau’s journal — the third of fourteen, as published in 1906 by Houghton Mifflin and Company. And I am set to begin The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, after reading the introduction for the fourth or fifth time early this morning. As with Whitman, I continue my habit of reading aloud — except in the case of The Letters of Henry […]

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Long Island Line

In the form of his complete poetry and prose, Walt Whitman has been a daily companion of mine for the last three months. Today I opened and closed the uncommon-common book of his life for the last time — but not, if I am granted the necessary health and a similar span of years, for ever or for all time. Clearly, there is much about our time that would not […]

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All Together Now

Do I know you as well as I know those I know in the flesh? Yes. Because in both ways of knowing, it’s really my imagination that creates you. Is this a way of saying I don’t know you at all, or that I know you ever so little? Yes. And that, too, is beautiful. Do you know me? Is that something I can ever know? I don’t know. Do […]

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