William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Old Books’

How Do You Hold It?

Five in the morning. Seventy degrees. A light dew. Is there a way to separate memory from smell? It seems one is dry grass, and the other is ripening fruit. Shall we ask the toes? Is there anything they do not know? Early morning watering. The humans are expecting temperatures today as high as one hundred seven degrees. The plants, though, show no sign of concern. Which should we believe? […]

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Someday

In the evening, the lilac scent. When dry, the cones on the pine were open and appeared ready to fall. A little rain, though, and they have changed their minds. Now their upper halves are closed — not tightly, as when they are green, but enough to demonstrate their connection to the tree. While standing near the lilac behind the house this morning, I was visited by a little wren, […]

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The Impossible Dream

I record dreams as truthfully and faithfully as I can. In terms of accuracy, how successful I am varies from one attempt to the next, fiction and memory overlapping as they do. The form also varies. Some are set down in straightforward prose; others as poems; not a few are drawings and are rendered without words at all. There are even times when I do not realize I am recording […]

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Religio Medici

In the latter pages of his Religio Medici, Sir Thomas Browne mentions in passing that in addition to several regional dialects, he knows six languages. He does not write so to impress; it strikes me more as an expression of his generous, liberal nature: he sees himself not as the center of the universe as it was then known and understood, but as a fortunate participant in everything it has […]

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Strawberry Leaves

It’s good to need a coat again. It’s good to have a coat, and a faithful wool cap to lift from off its summer pedestal of old books by the door. It’s good to walk in the clear frosty air. It’s good to be out with the young moon, and Mars, and Saturn, and Jupiter. It’s good to hear the sound of geese honking overhead, and in the nearby wetland. […]

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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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The Man Who Lost His Head

The Man Who Lost His Head Notebook Illustration I’m Telling You All I Know June 1, 2009   “When our kids were small, my wife and I used to read them a delightful book from the library called The Man Who Lost His Head. Published in 1942, the story was written by Claire Huchet Bishop and masterfully illustrated by Robert McCloskey. It’s about a man who has lost his head, […]

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Fossil Poetry

The well ran dry. He dug deeper, and deeper, his back to the soft spring rain.   Fossil Poetry I’m tempted to say writing is what keeps me sane, but I think we’d better reserve judgment on that. The opposite could easily be true. Writing might be what keeps me insane. Or, my insanity might be what keeps me writing. Then again, it might be my sanity that keeps me […]

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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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