William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Old Photographs’

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

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. […]

Continue Reading →

Long Story Short

William Michaelian, No Time to Cut My Hair

These days, my hair and beard are long — depending on the light, home to an early winter, or to all four seasons at once, like one of Gramp’s old work shirts, blossom, grape, earth, leaf, frost. I practice simple daily cleanliness, wear clothes to match, and which require almost no closet space. And so I wonder — is my natural unadorned appearance a public invitation to set aside what’s […]

Continue Reading →

Days of Future Passed

William Michaelian — Photo by Tim Hinshaw, 1997

This picture was taken by a late writer-friend, Tim Hinshaw, to accompany my first published story, “Naneh’s Melon Thieves,” which appeared twenty-one years ago in Ararat Quarterly. The print was given to me in 2010 by Tim’s son after his father’s memorial service. The scene is Liberty Street, in downtown Salem. I’m looking west. Some thugs had just stepped off a city bus. Present and accounted for, I was ready […]

Continue Reading →

Henry

Henry was my great-grandmother Eliza’s husband. I know even less about him than I do about her. Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood — I remember my mother saying the fall from his horse that killed him was no accident. Penny Thoughts and Photographs, November 8, 2009

Continue Reading →

Desire

I posted an old family photograph earlier this morning, and I think I will post another tomorrow. All in the balance of things. But in between, there is always desire — what it is, and what it does and doesn’t mean.   Desire Inside the flower, down the stem, into the roots — a dark hum: that’s where we learn about desire, that’s where the sun can’t hear what we’re […]

Continue Reading →

Eliza

I know little about Eliza, except that she was my mother’s mother’s mother, and that her husband, Henry, who was born in 1835 and much older, died after a fall from a horse. This picture of her was taken when she was sixteen, around 1880 or a little before. My guess is that it was done somewhere in the East, before she and Henry settled in California’s gold country. After […]

Continue Reading →

Papa, 1908

Papa, 1908

 

This is my father’s father, from a large photo-portrait taken when he was twelve, about two years after his arrival in this country. Since to a surprising degree this picture shows the way I think, I might attempt more of these strange collages.

Penny Thoughts and Photographs, August 6, 2009

Papa, 1908