William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

New Poems & Pieces

Juncos, Seaweed, and Mold

Poor Helga Crane. I must confess, I did not expect that within its last thirty pages, Nella Larsen’s Quicksand would turn into an out-and-out tragedy. But that is exactly what it did, all seemingly the result of an ill-timed walk in the rain. Heartbreaking it was, to this reader at a distance of nearly a century, that even death would say, No, you have not suffered enough — heartbreaking especially […]

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Smoke and Quicksand

Yesterday afternoon, after reading several chapters of Nella Larsen’s novel, Quicksand, I had put the book aside to rest my eyes when a question came to mind: how long, I wondered, has it been since I would rather be doing something else? As I thought about this, the days, weeks, and months of my strange quiet life quickly gave way to years — so it is, at least, that long. […]

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Reply

Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem, the second offering in the Library of America’s two-volume collection of nine Harlem Renaissance novels, is an outstanding, refreshing, exhilarating, musical work full of sweet longing and suspense, an artful record of the timeless love affair between pain and laughter in which each, mutually and gratefully dependent on the other, flowers and bleeds. The source of pain: American history, ignorance, hatred, prejudice. The source of […]

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Fall Postcard

The dogwood is a beautiful red this year. If I were to make myself invisible and walk up to it ever so slowly, and then give the tree a shake, birds would scatter in every direction, a fluttering eruption of bright grosbeaks and chickadees there for the seed. Then, seeing nothing, they would soon return, some from the cedar, some from the maple, some from the birch. And I would […]

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Strawberry Leaves

It’s good to need a coat again. It’s good to have a coat, and a faithful wool cap to lift from off its summer pedestal of old books by the door. It’s good to walk in the clear frosty air. It’s good to be out with the young moon, and Mars, and Saturn, and Jupiter. It’s good to hear the sound of geese honking overhead, and in the nearby wetland. […]

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Cane

Now that I’ve finished it, I hope I am able to remember Jean Toomer’s novel, Cane. It has been this way for a great many years. The books I read have a way of passing through me. I retain impressions and moods, and lose most of the details. But the deep, dark poem that is Cane, the story of it, the play, is mood, is impression, is nightmare, stirring and […]

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The Horizontal Life

Here in the time of yellowing maples and drifting leaves, the falls and streams are charged with new life by the recent thunderstorms. Numerous spiderwebs cross the path, so fine that one is not aware of them until they are broken in passing through; removed from around the forehead and eyes, parts still cling; or maybe it is the memory of their touch that has not quite died away. At […]

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Nicotine

Many years ago, in our old hometown, there was a Japanese man in his nineties who had smoked cigarettes all of his adult life and loved smoking them still, all with no apparent harm to his health. There are people like that, people who can live on terrible, unhealthy diets, or who can consume alcohol in amounts that would make others ill, and yet thrive. As the story goes, with […]

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Opposites

Living shadows, and the solid dreams they cast — The cedar and the lamp post, the school boy and the cloud: The perfect shroud — as if Cain had smiled at Abel, And Abel — had wept — and bowed. . [ 904 ]

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