William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Poems, Slightly Used

Wash Day

The end of the world is a strange and beautiful place. It keeps growing, and it keeps ending. And as it ends, it gives birth to countless new beginnings. Eyes open, eyes close, eyes open again. Galaxies and atoms. Oceans and tufts of grass. A little boy’s pockets turned inside out for the wash. What he remembers. What he loses. What he collects. Where have you been? his kind mother […]

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Reason

It’s probably no more insane to imagine reason, than it is reasonable to imagine insanity. Still, I feel compelled to ask myself: What is my insanity, reason, and imagination to make of such a statement, even though I’m the one who made it? Also: Am I merely being clever, or am I serious? Am I a model student, or a class clown? Either way, or all — I am reminded […]

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Summer Advice

At ten-thirty this morning, the sun makes my arms feel like they’re about to become wings; the shade is the spirit of cool and quiet things. August 24, 2020 . Summer Advice Kiss each other in the shade after you’ve eaten a juicy ripe peach. No shade, imagine the tree. No peach, imagine the taste. No one, no one with a heart out of reach. Poems, Slightly Used, June 1, […]

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Self-Portrait in White

The third volume of Vincent’s letters. Yesterday afternoon, he cut off a piece of his ear. July 15, 2020   Self-Portrait in White A man and his donkey; a snowy field; a cart full of bones. The wind. Poems, Slightly Used, November 10, 2009 [ 807 ]

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Winter Trees

“The bird names have trapped me. They exist in a realm of unsolvable mysteries: the realm of nothing more than connotation. And yet I want to know what the bird behind each looks like. Why? I shouldn’t care.”   Winter Trees † Feline huntress, dozing on the grass. Along the fence, a cortège of wary sparrows, each dark face a funeral card. On my lips, imagined bird names:                            Shwittl, Tikipap, […]

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Sunday’s Child

At long last I can say I have read Leaves of Grass — every word, in the poet’s final edition. I can also say that I have read each poem aloud, phrase by phrase, line by line, slowly, patiently, thoughtfully, carefully listening all the while. I had read Walt Whitman before. I had read his 1855 first edition, and many of his poems at random. And about fifteen years ago, […]

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The Trick

It’s a wonderful occupation, this search for the ordinary, knowing it can never be found. Sixteen days have passed since I noticed a fallen birch leaf riding piggyback on a fig leaf still attached to the tree. The fig leaf is yellower now and with pronounced reddish veins. And the birch leaf, having lost most of its color and diminished in size, remains right where it was. November 6, 2019 […]

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Afternoon Nap

You love this mirage, this idea of yourself looking out on the world, when, all the while, the world is within you. And you love the sanctity of what you imagine is your private space, when that same space is outside you. And if what is outside is in, and what is inside is out, where are you, and what are you? Just what becomes of the who of you? […]

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Escape is a Cage

What is it that keeps me saying what I’ve already said? Self-love, perhaps? Indifference? Ignorance? Or is there simply a birdsong mechanism deep in my heart or throat, the purpose of which is to express a prehistoric loss or need? And yet, for the life of me, if I’ve lost something, I don’t know or remember what it is. And what could I, fortunate as I am to perceive such […]

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