William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Reading’

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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The Observer Observed

Is it possible to read about, or listen to, the experiences of others, without filtering them through, or comparing them to, one’s own? I don’t suggest that an unbiased comparison would be of lesser or no value. In essence, that asks the same, or nearly the same, question: Is it possible to consider one’s own experiences non-judgmentally, as other than a series of successes and failures, or a source of […]

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Smoke and Robins

If it takes me as long to read Thoreau’s journal as it did for him to write it, I will never finish. I have, however, read the first four volumes. Ten remain. At the beginning of the fifth, he refers to himself as a mystic, transcendentalist, and natural philosopher, and says that in most cases he finds it best, or at least easiest, to let people think otherwise — that […]

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A Small Boy and Others

The language of Henry James in A Small Boy and Others is a softly spoken dream that gently begs the use of the reader’s own tongue. The dream is in color; it has no corners or edges or sides; it is more like the distance one travels between a robin’s breast and a fully ripe strawberry — the kind of journey a child makes many times each day — even […]

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Loaves, Poems, and Rose Petals

The grapes are just beginning to bloom. The canes on one side have climbed to the roof. On the other, they have found inspiration and support in the apricot tree. And the apricot, in her grace and charm, returns blush for blush. Nationalism, patriotism, and pride are coins — certainty on one side, violence on the other. May humans someday learn to pay their way with loaves, poems, and rose […]

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Valley Days

From the tips of its branches to the deepest, outermost extent of its roots, the cedar that planted itself within a few feet of our front window is as wild as a tree growing in an inaccessible canyon. This is something the sky knows and is always eager to tell. Nor is this truth questioned by squirrels, birds, insects, and worms, all of which are wild and wise in their […]

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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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