William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Family History’

At the Armenian Home

Even after his stroke and up to his death on January 6, 1990, at the age of ninety-three, my father’s father never did forget who we were. Many at the Armenian Home in Fresno, where he chose to spend the last few years of his life, weren’t as fortunate. This short poem was inspired by our visits there, and by the vineyards we used to pass on the way. “At […]

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Piano Man

The printed certificate with ornamental border shows that I was born in 1956, on the twentieth day of the month of May, in the small town of Dinuba, in the county of Tulare, in the central part of the San Joaquin Valley of California, southeast of the much larger town of Fresno. The third of three sons, I was named William on the third day after my glorious Sunday afternoon […]

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My Word, My Age, My Cage

I am as old now as I was when I was a child in my first pair of overalls, standing at the edge of the garden with my face near a flower. I even wear the same smile, a smile a bee might wear if he suddenly discovered he was human. And I am as old as the bee. I am as old now as I was when the fall […]

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The Trusty Hamilton

Memory — June 20, 2009

For the first time in ages, I wound my father’s wristwatch, which I keep on my work table next to his brother’s old briar pipe. The trusty Hamilton started ticking immediately. The tiny secondhand, set in a circle built into the face where the 6 should be, started making its way around. Now, several hours later, I see the watch is still running — as am I, apparently, though I […]

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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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Sitting At My Mother’s Desk

It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s old, it’s heavy, it’s made of wood. It’s simple, it’s worn, it’s scarred, but it still shines when the light is upon it. She bought it many years ago from a retired school teacher eight miles away in the next town. In the Thirties, before the Second World War, she and one of her girlfriends walked to that town from our town along the railroad […]

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My Mother Saved Our Baby Shoes

Each day, I give thanks for the unknown and unexplained.   My Mother Saved Our Baby Shoes My mother saved our baby shoes, two handfuls of wedding rice in delicate nets, flowers, roses, brittle stems, in her cedar chest. And in all her years of not remembering, I wonder which she forgot the best. I wonder which she smiled at when she sat here dreaming in her make-believe and present-tense. […]

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Five Years Ago

“William” — January 1, 2014

Truly an exercise in vanity, I liked this self-portrait so much back in 2014, I had a small canvas-print made. On a wall in this room, in a dimly lit place mostly hidden by books, it’s a private daily reminder of my foolish self-absorption, which I can only hope, and am in no way certain, I’ve outgrown. But for all that, the likeness is still a valid record of sorts, […]

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Winter Light and the Old Royal

Winter Light and the Old Royal

Somewhere in the house — I can only guess where — there’s a sturdy flat box meant to hold a ream of paper, with a patterned lid that fits neatly over the bottom portion; this box contains a long story I wrote for adults who are children, and for children who are adults — a sort of Huck Finn lightly fictionalized family history set on the farm where my father […]

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There Is a Story

It seems these older pieces are coming together in a way that makes them read as if they’re being written now, one giving rise to the next in a natural progression. I realize this is my impression. I don’t know if it strikes you that way. But I think this feeling is partly due to the pieces I am writing now — those which stand alone, and those which serve […]

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