William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Songs and Letters

Lincoln Memorial

Afternoon sunlight on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, following a long foggy prelude. In it, the rising snowflakes are small moths. Earlier, juncos were splashing in the mossy-leafy rainwater collected in the birdbath. Most birds, I have found, do not like a clean tub. A scrub-jay just arrived, bright-blue against its bare perch in the fig tree. The shepherd’s purse is starting to bloom. The front sidewalk and retaining wall are deep […]

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Give Us This Day

At the table — linen napkins, fine crystal — flesh to recall cave times. Dancing lambs in a sunny field — mothers cry to daffodils. Home from the war — in a coffin — in the night — whippoorwills.   Give Us This Day The house on the hill has a song behind its door each morning someone lets it out out of kindness the song flaps up to the […]

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Chorus

More than anything, it seems I write in terms of surprise — that yesterday was not my last chance, or this morning, or an hour ago — that I am here at all — that I am still here, that I ever was here, without really knowing what here is, or why, or how. And it might well be that this condition, this outlook — this disease if you prefer […]

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Visions of Spring

Dear crocus, sleeping in the morn — laughing later in the storm — my time to preach is past, but not my time to learn — or why — on earth — be born?   Visions of Spring Our battered house tugs at its anchor in a sea of mud. In the galley, there are potatoes with bulging eyes, onions with hair, dwindling lumps of cheese and bread. From the […]

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Death Treads Softly

For every heart-breaker, there is a love-maker; for every flower, an hour — a death, a life.   Death Treads Softly Death treads softly past the nurse reading at her desk. When morning comes, another bed is empty. Winter is long, the old folks let go one by one. We strip their sheets and scrub the floors, send their bundles to the laundry. But the ones who live are hungry. […]

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The Old Road

One Hand Clapping February 2004

Who knows why, but this morning I find myself thinking about jackrabbits, vineyards, and dust. These are but a few significant emblems of my childhood, which, rather than ending, gradually became the insanity I labor under today. Polliwogs, crawdads, slow-moving mossy water. The sound of our tractor in the distance, the tractor and my father pursued by a cloud of blackbirds looking for bugs, seeds, and worms. As I look […]

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A Poet Making Scrambled Eggs

Emily Dickinson wrote a poem — I saw her put it on — thro’ the open window — and thro’ the window heard her call it — Snow. “Woman in White” Early one January evening.   A Poet Making Scrambled Eggs A poet making scrambled eggs imagines chickens scratching in the yard, warm sun upon a never-painted fence, an old dog napping on the porch stoically resigned to all its […]

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Someday

All smiles late yesterday afternoon, our twelve-year-old grandson told me that earlier in the day he had looked me up on the internet — I googled you were the words he used. I said, You did? That’s funny, I didn’t feel anything — at the same time realizing that from this point on I would begin to seem a little different in his eyes, as this portion of my life […]

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Monuments

We live in a house full of old furniture, old books, old photographs, old dishes, old pots and pans, and sundry heirloom antiques. Wouldn’t it be strange if we were to populate it with smart devices — a term itself meant to last no longer than what it was coined to sell? Isn’t it better to speak to each other and to ourselves than to an array of gadgets and […]

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My Father Walking, and Twenty-Four Other Things

It occurred to me recently that I walked more than a thousand miles in the immediate neighborhood during the past year, and several hundred more on state park trails — in terms of sheer distance, roughly halfway across the continent. This is hardly a profound realization. But though it was made in small increments, the journey itself was far from mundane. And a journey it remains. Another year and I […]

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