William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Letters’

Dostoevsky and Van Gogh

Having fortunately lived long enough to finish reading all three volumes of Vincent’s letters, I have moved on to Dostoevsky’s Diary of a Writer, in Boris Brasol’s English translation, published in two volumes by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1949. After years of being away from Dostoevsky’s great novels and stories, coming upon him in the somewhat more casual, conversational mode of his periodical writings is much like having coffee with […]

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Everything and All

If the individual plants in our patch of grass were people or trees, how much space would they need to survive and thrive? They are a multitude. However, I walk through or in a forest or a crowd, and I walk on a lawn; I am small in one instance, large in another; a humble supplicant; the possessor of great strength and power. And always, I have a choice of […]

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St. Rémy

May 1889. Vincent has just entered the asylum at St. Rémy. Or have I entered it in July 2020? I close my eyes. Careful consideration yields no definite answer; rather, the image of a giant colorful moth is imprinted on the inside of my eyelids, very much in the way stars appear in the night sky. I paint the moth; I paint the sky; and, while painting, I wonder how […]

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Self-Portrait in White

The third volume of Vincent’s letters. Yesterday afternoon, he cut off a piece of his ear. July 15, 2020   Self-Portrait in White A man and his donkey; a snowy field; a cart full of bones. The wind. Poems, Slightly Used, November 10, 2009 [ 807 ]

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Letters

Late each evening, the male towhee comes out from the rhododendron for one last look at the world and a little something to eat before bed. He is done singing for the day, and still mindful of the nest. Under the lilac, he finds something that intrigues him in the moss, and starts scratching like a chicken. The motion propels him forward several inches, then he hops back and pecks […]

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May Day

I’m still reading Vincent’s letters, and will be for quite some time. I continue with Thoreau’s journal, a fourteen-volume project. I’m about fifty pages into William Wetmore Story and His Friends, from Letters, Diaries, and Recollections, by Henry James, published in two volumes in 1904. I’ve begun the Library of America edition of John Muir’s nature writings. And I’ve just finished at Home with Disquiet, a wonderful new collection of […]

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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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Blind Fishermen

Early morning. Fresh air, dark clouds, robin-song. And I ask myself — In this paradise, if I am not ready to die, have I ever really lived? March 25, 2020   Blind Fishermen It’s been so long — I think of writing you today. Do you think of writing me? — And do you wonder what to say? So many letters set out this way — Like little rafts at […]

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Dear Theo

It is perhaps not that strange in these virus times, to want to hurry and read something before I die — and yet there it is — the thought arrives unbidden — and so I set it down, not knowing whether it is prescient or the result of a life-long habit of fictionalizing my existence. The book in question consists of three volumes, and contains the letters of Vincent Van […]

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Troonk and Hamph

Among other things, in his journal entry for May 25, 1852, Thoreau mentions hearing the first troonk of a bullfrog — a lovely word, although I have for years spelled the sound hamph — this based on my recurring basso profondo imitation of bullfrogs heard while drifting with my father in his twelve-foot aluminum boat down California’s Kings River, in that lazy stretch below the town of Reedley where it […]

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