William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Everything and Nothing

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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Expected to Know

This is a Wednesday that feels so much like a Friday, one is sure Sunday is near. But what if I’d never seen a calendar, and had no idea what they were? What if I didn’t know names had been given to the days of the week? For me there would be no week, no month, no year, only seasons. There would be the kind that are short, which pass […]

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Now Arriving

How long has it been since I’ve felt a sense of belonging to any particular country? When I was fifteen, though I’d yet to fully work it out in my mind, the notion had already struck me as folly; and to this day, it seems that one’s conscious presence in this world is too great a miracle to waste on such a rude concept as nations, with their ideologies, flags, […]

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Maybe

I don’t believe in an afterlife — certainly not one in terms of punishment or reward, of safety, security, bliss, or pain. Neither do I believe that I’ve lived before, in the sense that I’ve passed through previous incarnations that have led to the one I’m living now. I don’t say these beliefs are wrong. I only say that in the sense in which they’re traditionally accepted, they don’t ring […]

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Morning Exercise

Morning Exercise — July 7, 2020

This drawing reminds me of something that happened a few days ago. While I was watering the flowers in one of our wine barrels, two tiger swallowtails fluttered past me from behind, just above my left shoulder. I fluttered after them. Up over the fig tree we went, past the birch, and into the neighbor’s yard. We were halfway down the street when I remembered I couldn’t fly. I turned […]

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No Small Thing

Even after a thorough washing, the fingertips of my left hand wear the strong scent of marigolds — this from having plucked three mostly dried blooms from their plants. On each side of the marigolds, we have lobelia in two clay pots. The pots and the marigolds are on an old mossy concrete bench. The bench looks like it belongs in a cemetery. Bees love the lobelia. The lobelia love […]

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Swallows

Early most mornings, past the big oak where the street bends, I see swallows — usually a pair, but sometimes one or the other is out alone. I say one or the other, but they move so quickly I can’t tell them apart, or even judge their relative size. It’s possible, too, they’re not the same swallows — just as I’m not the same person who sees them from day […]

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Smoke and Robins

If it takes me as long to read Thoreau’s journal as it did for him to write it, I will never finish. I have, however, read the first four volumes. Ten remain. At the beginning of the fifth, he refers to himself as a mystic, transcendentalist, and natural philosopher, and says that in most cases he finds it best, or at least easiest, to let people think otherwise — that […]

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Like Yours, Like Anyone’s

On good days, I remind myself of a cuckoo clock. There are no bad days.   Like Yours, Like Anyone’s When you take advantage of someone in any kind of dealing, business or otherwise, you may think you have gotten away with something, but you have really only sold yourself. For a few pennies, millions, or a sense of power, you have sold your dignity. You have sold another chance […]

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