William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Songs and Letters

The Annotated Proverbs of Hell

Once upon a time, a very long short time ago, I “annotated” William Blake’s Proverbs of Hell. Written in 2007 during the months of November and December, my sixty-nine mostly odd, somewhat awkward, likely absurd poetic responses to the Proverbs comprise the entire sixteenth volume of Songs and Letters. The Proverbs are from the 1994 Dover edition of Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Here is the sixth: The […]

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Drought

Grass fires. Forest fires. Climate change. Drought. A neighbor decides he does not like his wise old fir. He cuts it down. Grinds the stump. Pours concrete. Complains about his electricity bill. June 21, 2021 . Drought Laughter in the well. Granddad, you come out of there. Buried him that very same year. Songs and Letters, January 30, 2009 . [ 1141 ]

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Under Our Hats

I found an ancient pair of worn out jeans and cut them off a little above the knee. I’m wearing them now. I wore them early this morning while working barefoot in the garden and watering our assorted plantings and pots. Dirt, water, sun — childhood. We bought half a crate of strawberries yesterday. They’re called “Ruby June.” For whatever lucky reason, I’ve had more close-up meetings with birds. As […]

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Light Cannot Pass

Power is restored — electricity has blown out the neighbor’s sweet wax candles. February 22, 2021 . Light Cannot Pass Light cannot pass between two hands clasped in prayer but it does wash over them and it runs down the arms and it drips from the elbows and it melts like wax on the floor. Songs and Letters, May 18, 2008 . [ 1029 ]

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Until We Meet

Maybe I should burn all of the others and keep this one. January 17, 2021 . Until We Meet What if we think of words as bells, each with a sound that’s just arrived from a great distance — across fields, down mountains, over graveyards, swept along alleys and streets, and of we who ring them as angels without names? Songs and Letters, September 24, 2008 . [ 998 ]

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Two Graves

On one hand, the familiar phrase, eternal rest, makes me smile: what effort could be so prolonged and great that it would require it? On the other hand, in the realm of human suffering, especially that inflicted by ourselves, upon ourselves, as in violent crime and cases of genocide, I can see where an eternity of rest would not be long enough. Both views seem narrow, though, when we remember […]

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Now

It’s a peculiar thing, the urge, perhaps even the need, to make poems of private, personal experiences you know that others, too, have had. After a while, there gets to be an easy inevitability about the process, to the point that the occurrences of poem and experience often overlap and even seem reversed; sometimes it’s almost as if one is remembering the future, or that the past is about to […]

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Winter Lullaby

Even at the time, I felt I was living in a dream. My mother was eighty-three, and well on her way to being consumed by Alzheimer’s Disease. Our youngest son and child was eighteen, and beginning his self-guided exploration of music. In the middle of the night, it was common to hear him playing his guitar and singing. Tired as I was, I never once wished he would stop; indeed, […]

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Peace

I remember when being idealistic earned a young person a sympathetic smile and a pat on the head. Once he or she had finished school, though, such an outlook was considered impractical, and looked upon almost as threatening behavior. Making money was the thing. Impressing the neighbors. Getting ahead. Buying insurance. It was better to fit in and have a heart attack than it was to be comfortable in one’s […]

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