William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘My Father’

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 […]

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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

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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 […]

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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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Canvas 686 — A Growing Fool

Canvas 686 — May 5, 2016

  A Growing Fool On the rare occasions it was warranted, I was thrilled to wear a tie my father had long since banished to a far corner of the closet, so much out of style it was that it was a new style all its own, wide and long enough to serve as vest or bib, wild enough to please the choosiest of adolescent clowns. I had big shoes. […]

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Long Time Passing

For weeds in tight spots, I use an old folding grape knife we brought from the farm. It was given to my father back in the Seventies as an expression of thanks by a man for letting him work for a short time to meet a few immediate bills. If I remember correctly, his employment lasted two or three days, and was ended not by my father, but by the […]

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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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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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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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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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