William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Memory’

The Sunlight on My Mother’s Face

Well before daylight, in the sublime quiet, reading the letters of a thoughtful young man who later lost his life in the Civil War at the age of twenty-nine: Charles Russell Lowell, nephew of the great writer and poet, James Russell Lowell. Then, suddenly, raindrops — so few in number it reminds me of my mother sprinkling water on her ironing. June 26, 2019   The Sunlight on My Mother’s […]

Continue Reading →

Genesis, 1962

My father always said that no one taught him to swim, that he simply jumped into the wide mossy ditch with all the other boys and learned then and there on his own. He did not say he had already learned by watching, while dancing naked with glee on the bank in the hot summer sun. Some of the same vineyards that were there in his childhood were there in […]

Continue Reading →

July Rain

The art of making it rain, I learned from my father. That I am here to explain, I learned from my mother.   July Rain Dying is such old work — I settle the dust in our yard with a hose. Poems, Slightly Used, July 5, 2009

Continue Reading →

First Came the Meanings

To me, one strange thing about living is having a name. Another is so many not thinking it strange.   First Came the Meanings First came the meanings then their names chamomile squirrel supper table the boy himself a pebble down a well loving the hand that let him go Recently Banned Literature, May 10, 2013

Continue Reading →

The Great Questions

Was I sand then? That’s what my father asked when he was a child listening to family stories that took place before he was born. The ritual began when his mother first told him, You were sand then. In time, he no longer needed to ask. He simply said, I was sand then. Born in 1923. Sand again.   The Great Questions The great questions, and as many stars or […]

Continue Reading →

I Have Paid My Debt In Pain

I’ve received nothing but kindness all my days. Every difficulty I’ve suffered was kindness in disguise. The meannesses and cruelties, the deceptive, crooked ways — I give thanks for each of them. And for each that I’ve committed, I leave a flower at its grave. There are some unmarked, some with names. I bow to all, but not in shame. I accept the grief and love the blame. I go […]

Continue Reading →

Sunlight Stored In Bone

Once, during my childhood, I caused the death of a bird. Or I was caused to cause it, to drive a lesson home — That fallen from a tree, a sparrow is a rainbow on the ground.   Sunlight Stored In Bone Sunlight stored in bone — life, limb, bird, song, leaf, gone, flown. Recently Banned Literature, December 2, 2014

Continue Reading →

The dry grass of my ambition has a beauty all its own.

All the more so with the fences down.

And the graveyard overgrown.

William Michaelian 1988

Portland, Oregon — December 1988

Before Me, the Past

Before me, the past speeds ahead.
It arrives, I know not when.

Behind me, the future is silent.
It knows that I am dead.

Pity, there is no grief in starlight.
Mercy, cries for the unborn.

Duty, is a failed science.
Love, walks alone.

You show me a sign.
A bright, fathomless smile.

As if there were, anything.
As if we were, real.

As if, rainbows give birth to children.
And they do: rainbows, and strawberries.

Fallen angels, white as any snowflake.
Black as an eye in a song.

Blue, as when light returns.
Green, because everything is so damn silly.

Honeyed as any flower.
Or as the scent and color of skin.

Intimate, as graveyard stone.
Whispers, with cold gray fingertips.

Wet shoes: where have I been?
And how did you find me?

A siren in a cityscape.
Moonlight, on a table.

Perhaps, or, simply, fate.
A wet sponge by the sink.

A leaf, a candle.
An unexpected need.

Poems, Slightly Used, November 21, 2010

1988 — Before Me, the Past