William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Childhood’

Disaster

During my San Joaquin Valley childhood, there were still a few boxcars used as homes, tucked away in odd corners on useless bits of land. Nestled in mounds of chickweed, with old blown tires and chickens in the yard, they seemed like seeds scattered by a giant’s hand, or fruit fallen from a tree in a homegrown fairy tale. Life inside could not have been comfortable, too cold in winter, […]

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Nothing

I have not been myself lately, said the wind. Nor I, said the mountain. The shepherd boy, who had been listening, took up his flute. When he was an old man, he put it down again and died. And the wind rushed, and the mountain blushed, to the depths of the canyon.   Nothing I said to my mother, I said to my father, “I have nothing to do.” To […]

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Where Pain Is Unexplained

Where pain is unexplained, I liken it to love. I liken it to childhood, too. No? Isn’t it like looking deeply into brown eyes, Into green, into gray, into blue? Where pain is unexplained, I see sweet ripples on the pond. If swimming is to lose, is drowning living on? I think it must be so, where love is true, And pain is unexplained. February 27, after an early-morning walk […]

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The Hat Rack

My Uncle Before the War

After the grapes were all in and the raisins were picked up, boxed, and hauled away, my father’s attention turned to fall cleanup and house-painting chores. Always busy, everything in its right time and season. Oil-based, lead-based work. Paint thinner. Fumes. Open windows. Worried flies. The kitchen walls, the washroom — they stand out, as does the hat rack his older brother built before he was killed in the war. […]

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Slow Dance

And what of school? I remember our sturdy little desks in rows, bright, flat crayons, and how their taste resembled their smell, jars of glue, the heavy-paper mess, girls with long straight hair and curls, their fragrant dress, the playground, races, marble games and spinning tops, climbing bars and tractor tires stood up in the ground. And, not far off, in a cloud of dragonflies and dust, a country graveyard […]

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Robin Thoughts

Why did the robin take a vigorous bath yesterday, on a thirty-five-degree winter afternoon? Did he do it to spite the incoming snow? And where is he now? Near the ice-rimmed pool, watching the white-bright world from under the rhododendron, warm to his red in its bed of dry leaves? At two this morning, I was awakened by snow-light. Out walking before seven, I saw a boy in front of […]

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Blessings

From Songs and Letters, October 2, 2008

I shot a rabbit once, and have been bleeding ever since. I shot a bird, and now my wings are bent. I shot an arrow at the heavens, and my heart is where it went. I shot my childhood, and this strange long life it sent. I shot my life, and death told me what it meant. I shot my death, and now I sing, and now I dance.

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As I Recall

A few days ago, a red-tailed hawk swooped past the window and landed in the small bare maple opposite the front door. Not a very large bird, it was still too big for its chosen perch. With each move it made, it was poked and brushed by twigs. Finally it braved the maze and dropped to the ground. After investigating the muddy dahlia bed, it flew off across the driveway […]

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Sweet Kisses

Fifty years ago, when my father went to visit a farm neighbor dying of cancer, he heard him howling with pain the moment he entered our little hometown hospital. I was born in that hospital. When we were in high school, a close friend of mine died in that hospital. Three of our four children were born in that hospital. In that hospital, my appendix was removed. My wife worked […]

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