William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Songs and Letters

The Sunlight on My Mother’s Face

Well before daylight, in the sublime quiet, reading the letters of a thoughtful young man who later lost his life in the Civil War at the age of twenty-nine: Charles Russell Lowell, nephew of the great writer and poet, James Russell Lowell. Then, suddenly, raindrops — so few in number it reminds me of my mother sprinkling water on her ironing. June 26, 2019   The Sunlight on My Mother’s […]

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Genesis, 1962

My father always said that no one taught him to swim, that he simply jumped into the wide mossy ditch with all the other boys and learned then and there on his own. He did not say he had already learned by watching, while dancing naked with glee on the bank in the hot summer sun. Some of the same vineyards that were there in his childhood were there in […]

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Changes

The deep voice of a bullfrog — the lilies are so dense, he can cross Goose Lake without touching the water. On the high platform used by the ospreys, the heads of their young can be seen above the edge of their big rugged nest. Three brown rabbits. The cry of a flicker. Fields of daisies. Budding chamomile. In shaded areas, there is one kind of general scent; in sunny […]

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Preface to the First Edition

The spirit of a book? The flesh of a man? The book is flesh. The spirit is man.   Preface to the First Edition Each time I pick it up, I find this book has changed. So many bends in the road, So many landmarks. Death. Rejuvenation. Bloody thorns and hollow skulls. The whisper of inspired stones. The velvet hush of stars. The crush of tattered ages. Garments torn that […]

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Fable Wind

The world ended, but no one told the seed, and it was wild in its imagining.   Fable Wind All at once the fable wind came crashing at my door. I let her in upon her well-made horse, a beast with nostril caves and sunrise eyes. They ringing crossed in clatter-prance my rocking ship-deck floor, The wind’s long hair a ripened field of painted flame. Ocean mist caressed her shoulders […]

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Abandoned

Not that many days ago, I was nearly finished with my evening walk when, at the foot of a driveway of a house for sale, I was met with a single bark by a shaggy, two-toned spaniel. At the same time, I noticed a man occupied at some task behind, and mostly obscured by, an old white pickup. I greeted the dog and bent down to let it sniff the […]

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Heaven

When I cut off the old fronds of the ferns, mold is my reward. Later, I celebrate with double and triple sneezes, violent enough to rattle the dishes. In the center of the mound, the new fronds are unfurling, prehistoric, hairy, and willing. I find treasure therein — needles, twigs, and shells; fir and filbert sprouts. The Creeping Jenny is rampant under the white birch. If not trimmed a bit, […]

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Together, Alone

Beautiful, singing words — somehow you end up stacked like bricks. “Poet’s Lament” Songs and Letters, October 13, 2008   Together, Alone As deep as a worm, as radical as a plow. May it serve as a proverb for now. A church and its graveyard, at the convergence of roads. A cart ’neath an oak, in the hollow of a palm. A poet with a shovel, near the end of […]

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