William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘History’

Voyager

After two inches of rain, these lungs are best understood as sails, and this body a creaking, yet willing, ship — the air is that promising, that fresh, that clean. Seagulls on the city streets; the homeless, some just waking, others still asleep. The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn — if these clouds persist, will Christmas still come? History changes with the wind. It is the wake of the […]

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Black Thunder

Halfway through, I am haunted by Arna Bontemps’ Black Thunder. Knee-deep in mud, I am shaken by the roar, the clouds, the lightning, the rising streams. The shadows are alive. The horses scare me. Everything is an omen. I want to be free — as free as a bird, as free as Thomas Jefferson — free from the lash, free from the trunk of a tree. I pick your crops. […]

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Reply

Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem, the second offering in the Library of America’s two-volume collection of nine Harlem Renaissance novels, is an outstanding, refreshing, exhilarating, musical work full of sweet longing and suspense, an artful record of the timeless love affair between pain and laughter in which each, mutually and gratefully dependent on the other, flowers and bleeds. The source of pain: American history, ignorance, hatred, prejudice. The source of […]

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A Curious Blend

How wise, really, were the founders of this country? Could they have been merely smart, and not wise at all; or at least as blind, perhaps, as they were wise? Surely their supposed wisdom can and should be questioned. After all, some of them owned slaves. Can a man who preaches equality, and who buys and sells human beings, still be wise? Certainly he can be nice and mean well; […]

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Poor Sarkis

Although I too have gone to seed, the birds still prefer the sunflowers. In this world it is not enough to have a big head and limbs. There is an art to being stationary. The spiders, though, are tempted. So are the bees. The lacewings. The crane flies. The breeze. The crane flies. Whither, stranger, dost thou roam? Have you news from home? And he soars, and spins, and cries, […]

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Once Upon a Rose Garden

It’s one thing to order the destruction of an historic rose garden; more tragic, though, is that there’s always someone willing to follow such orders, when the intelligent, logical thing to do is refuse: No — if you want to destroy something everyone holds in trust, do it yourself, with your own hands, for all the world to see. And if you’re worried about blisters, you might try a moral […]

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Transitions

The hush of a forest. The sanctity of an old cathedral. A freeway through the graveyard of an unknown people. And here is the place where Love buried her sweet shy kitten. See the neon epitaph — Even grief wears a mask — As bright grows the sky where it’s bitten. [ 836 ]

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These Eyes

The Man Who Lost His Head

Reckoning from the year 1776, this country is two hundred and forty-four years old. I have lived sixty-four of those years, roughly a quarter of that span. Reading the relatively brief history of this land, how can I not be stunned and saddened by the magnitude of the slaughter, theft, exploitation, and waste that marks each stage of its development? Certainly I am not surprised to find the country as […]

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A Mighty Wind Is

Yesterday evening, I learned something: to finish reading The Letters of Henry Adams is to want to read his books all over again; and it is to want to read the lives and letters of his friends. April 7, 2020   A Mighty Wind Is A mighty wind is thrashing the firs. Yesterday, the crows were busy gathering wood for their nests. When the wind dies down, they will resume. […]

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Long Island Line

In the form of his complete poetry and prose, Walt Whitman has been a daily companion of mine for the last three months. Today I opened and closed the uncommon-common book of his life for the last time — but not, if I am granted the necessary health and a similar span of years, for ever or for all time. Clearly, there is much about our time that would not […]

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