William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Books’

The Good Life

Untrimmed Edges, Tobias Smollett Novels, London, George Routledge and Sons, 1884.

Truth be told, I’m as content to face a gale as I am to sip rare verse — even when, a moment later, I forget the blessèd words.   The Good Life Let’s say you’re bathing in an eighteenth century English epistolary novel, in which words are soap bubbles, and paragraphs are beads draped by the door, when you hear the footsteps of someone you love cross the floor; The […]

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One Hand Clapping — October 16, 2004

This is one of 730 entries that make up the daily journal and massive doorstop, One Hand Clapping. Each entry was published the day it was written on my first website, I’m Telling You All I Know. In that online version, the book was divided into pages by month. Atop each page was the following statement: The purpose of this daily journal is to see if I can find a […]

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Real Time

In the same letter, the friend who told me about the Gombrowicz diary mentioned seeing deer in the quieter, more secluded areas of the campus of the college where he works, and how those lovely creatures live in their own version of time. He meant it in a philosophical way, but it’s also true in the scientific sense. Every species on earth experiences time differently than we do, and sees […]

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Like a Flower

In a recent letter, a friend told me he’s reading the English translation of a diary by Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz, an 800-page tome published in 2012 by Yale University Press. He found it in Santa Barbara, at a bookstore named Chaucer’s. Naturally, I would like to have a copy, although I probably wouldn’t get around to reading it for thirty years. I’ll be ninety-two then. Will I still be […]

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L’Absinthe

L'Absinthe

As silly as it seems, I have even tried, a few times — with questionable success — to write poems based on famous paintings. I first encountered L’Absinthe on the cover of the 1980 printing of the Penguin Classics edition of Zola’s L’Assommoir. That is the image I worked from. It is ideally suited to the novel. The poem, on the other hand, is ideally suited for the bottom of […]

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Dreaming of Books

I did something a couple of days ago that I’ve never done before. I bought books online from a shop in England: The Works of Sir Thomas Browne, published in three volumes by John Grant in 1927 in Edinburgh. Anymore, there are very few of these complete sets available. I’ve watched them come and go at prices higher than I’m able or care to spend. This time around. I was […]

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And Birds Are Words

In the cool dark this morning there was a disturbance in one of the small trees a few feet from our open front window. A bird called out as if from a dream, in a tone of voice one doesn’t hear during the day. A minute or so later, a towhee spun a few notes, as if to say, I can’t see, but I can hear. This was repeated perhaps […]

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A Mouthful of Marbles

At 4:55 this morning I finished the third volume of Los Hijos del Pueblo: Historia de una Familia de Proletarios a Través de Veinte Siglos, por Eugenio Sué. Only one more volume to go. The first contains 1,150 pages; the second, 912; the third, 1,070; the fourth, 962. I read ten pages every morning while having my first cup of coffee. Sometimes, later in the day, when it’s too hot […]

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Ever Sunday

There’s a man we see looking at books in the thrift shops. He’s about our age, small, thin, and wears a wool cap in all weather, and at all times of the year. He’s thoughtful, always alone, seldom buys anything, and doesn’t stay long. Yesterday I said hello very quietly, and he replied with a kind nod, his lips forming the same word, with just enough breath behind it that […]

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