William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Songs and Letters

Weeds

Weeds — June 22, 2020

Let’s just say these sprouted here, and that we decided to let them grow. Let’s say the rain came, and that our hoes and shovels broke. Let’s say we are weeds ourselves. Yes, and before we die, let us recognize the truth.   Weeds I love the weeds growing around my door, Familiar, independent, working without pay. They would be on a hillside if they could, And someday will be […]

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Not Dying

This piece, another entry from Songs and Letters, was written August 3, 2005. The friend referred to is Glen Ragsdale, the artist who did the painting that appears on my book, The Painting of You. You can read a little more about Glen and see his painting here.   Not Dying After my friend told me he was diagnosed with cancer and had been given a year and a half […]

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The Living and the Dead

Sometimes, when the bow is not taut, the arrow flies much farther.   The Living and the Dead A pair of starlings are feasting on something in the maple tree outside my window. The tree has just begun to bloom. Its larger branches are covered with moss, some of it old, much of it new. The birds have found something to eat in the moss — newly hatched insects, or […]

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Wild Carrots

Seventeen years — hyacinths are there now, shaded by a rapidly growing volunteer cedar. My mother is gone. We live in her house.   Wild Carrots It just occurred to me that wild carrots have sprouted only once on the slope near the sidewalk in front of my mother’s house. That was about three years ago. My sons and I noticed them while working in the area. The roots were […]

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Imaginary Cigarettes — Writing Smoke

Writing Smoke — 2009

Dear one, you asked me how I feel. I’m smoking imaginary cigarettes in a cloud of imaginary smoke with imaginary ashes in my lap. My coffee is almost real enough to coat the tongue and conjure the sound of clattering cups as dreams flash by the windows. Pshhhh — an old man opens the door, smiles at the bottles of ketchup on the counter and at himself for being here. […]

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Remnants of a Dream

Although I was quite poor, somehow, a new shirt had come into my possession. The shirt had beautiful buttons, no two of them alike. Having heard good buttons were valuable, I presented the shirt to a large, pale, flabby man standing behind a counter, hoping to exchange the article for a useful sum of money. The man glanced at the shirt, told me he had all the buttons he needed, […]

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The Poet Tree

To my mind, John Muir is a poet of the wilderness in the most divine literary sense — his praise and gratitude for the natural world is a song as sublime, inspirational, and wise as any sung by Homer or Whitman; in his hands, a journal entry seems the work of angels, here to recall man from the nightmare of his blind, narrow self. Muir is explorer, artist, scientist, dreamer, […]

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Summer Service

I might have become a priest. What a disaster that would have been. And yet, had it happened, I might have found it the most wonderful thing in the world. Or maybe it did happen — long ago and far away, in a rocky, mountainous land.   Summer Service a fly on the eucharist —                shsh, shsh little children sound asleep on the cool stones on the cool stones sound […]

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Fossil Poetry

The well ran dry. He dug deeper, and deeper, his back to the soft spring rain.   Fossil Poetry I’m tempted to say writing is what keeps me sane, but I think we’d better reserve judgment on that. The opposite could easily be true. Writing might be what keeps me insane. Or, my insanity might be what keeps me writing. Then again, it might be my sanity that keeps me […]

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A Lesser Poet

The world has lost a great poet — so it’s often said. And yet isn’t death what finally and most fully reveals a great poet’s gift to this world? And so when the poet dies, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the world has gained him, or her, instead?   A Lesser Poet I will be remembered as a lesser poet, if at all — a clumsy ox […]

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