William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Recently Banned Literature

Precipice

Approaching the dam, you see the floodgates are open, and that everything below it and before you is bathed in cool mist — the oaks and the brambles, last summer’s grass, the mounds of half-melted granite looking for all the world like a giant’s tears. And you think, what is your own body if not a kind of dam, and what are your eyes if not floodgates? What are your […]

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Meditation — Three Short Poems

Asked if he practices the art of meditation, the old man smiled and said, I don’t know. If I think I am meditating, am I?   Meditation It’s not a question of loss or gain, but of the neighbor’s healthy lettuce; how many veins and folds it must contain of all that’s best for us; just as the less there is to test in us, the more the rest of […]

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I Find the Stone

Does a stone in a river resist the current? Or does it let the water wash over and around it and work its will? And when there is drought and the bed is dry, does the stone hide from the scorching sun? Now, if you say a stone simply sits there and that it has no consciousness and therefore no awareness or choice, does that change anything? Does your statement […]

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All the World’s Children

Everyone who was there is gone. This rain is their conversation — a gust of night air through the open front door, the bark of the dog, the winter crunch of a shoe in the yard. And far off — can you hear it? — a child is being born.   All the World’s Children On the most painful of days, all the world’s children come forth bearing flowers: red […]

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Just Long Enough

I love moss — its color, its texture, its immediate response to fog or the slightest hint of rain, and how it thrives on thoughtful compression and familiar touch, growing thick beneath footsteps on sidewalks, in lawns, and on forest paths. In some ways it is almost human. Or maybe we are almost moss. This time of year, the retaining walls, the stone steps, and the wooden borders of the […]

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Sweeping

After years of beating the pavement with a long-handled stub, I finally have a new broom. It’s a big rugged thing, with bristles enough to thatch a cottage. Best of all, it’s well balanced, like a good guitar or violin — or like a good mind, that knows where it’s been, and loves where it is.   Sweeping I am here, in this part of the world. You are there, […]

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Zen Érotique

The beautiful thing about expecting nothing is that when it arrives, I’m always delighted and surprised. It’s only when I expect something that I’m disappointed. But, as they say, those days are gone. It’s been ages since I expected anything. And if you think this sounds silly, childish, frivolous, clever, or contrived, you should read the rest of this book. Read it page by page from the very beginning. Then […]

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To French Vanilla and All the Other Flavors

Someday, perhaps, the unhappiest and most destructive of our kind will simply be loved by the rest of us into grace — caressed, as it were, by the whole human race. Now, look at the face. Look, and then ask yourself: Am I willing to love? Or am I above such tragic disgrace? And: If I am above, how came I to be so unlike the truth I proclaim — […]

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When I see ignorance in a face, or anxiety, or arrogance, or fear,
I see the road that brought me here.

When I see compassion, grace, and love,
I see sweet rain on distant fields. I see where I was born.

When I see my fingers on the keys of this strange machine,
I see an entire species on the precipice of itself.

Canvas 1,132 — January 12, 2018

Canvas 1,132 — January 12, 2018

 

Less a Tightrope Walker

Less a tightrope walker or juggler, more a snowflake or butterfly.

And then, when you least expect it, a man, in a grave, at the end.

That’s when his bones dance without help from his skin.

Don’t think it sad. Be a friend. Look in.

And don’t think me mad, if that’s what I am.

Think me flower, or ball, or pin.

Think me weightless.

Or melting.

Yes. Think of me then.

Recently Banned Literature, January 12, 2017

Canvas 1,132 — Less a Tightrope Walker

Definitions

In Recently Banned Literature, there was a department I called Definitions. Written about a year and a half apart yet clearly related, “Life, A Funny” and “Hurry” are two brief entries from that odd between-the-ears dictionary I fall back on to make up for Webster’s occasional gaps and misunderstandings, while revealing my own.   Life, A Funny Life? A funny kind of bark, on a funny kind of tree, and a […]

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