William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Suffering’

Blue Sky Cry

Health, leisure, good fortune, and very modest means. Blueberries, and other transitory things. No desire to possess or own. Catkins and birch-bits. Sunflowers. Bees. Cucumbers. The spider in my hair, taken back outside. Aware — yes, aware — there are troubles in the world. Hunger. Suffering. Violence. Greed. Pain. Wildfire. Drought. Climate change. The poses we assume. The lies we tell. The games we play. Aware — yes, aware — […]

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Borne by the Bier

Sweet sleep, for we might say sleep is that from which we arise, to emerge at birth and find ourselves astonished by the light; and then, at the appointed time, that to which we return, ripe and ready for the next miracle. Sweet, for how could it not be? — as sweet as the sleep of the child one was, is, and will become — sweet as the dew on […]

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Dress Rehearsal

One of the blessings of memory is the opportunity it gives us to go back in our minds and apologize to those we have thoughtlessly made suffer, and promise them such a thing will never happen again. And though at first it may seem contradictory, the blessing is especially great when the person we are addressing has already passed on. When the wrong is acknowledged and the apology and pledge […]

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Loose Ends

When I was born, I was given a genocide. I was also given a dear dead uncle who had killed, and been killed, in war. I was given simplicity, poverty, hunger, and joy. I was given anger and disappointment. I was given pride and competition. I was given physical and psychological pain. I was given fear. I was given honesty. I was given laughter. I was given play. I grew […]

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Two Graves

On one hand, the familiar phrase, eternal rest, makes me smile: what effort could be so prolonged and great that it would require it? On the other hand, in the realm of human suffering, especially that inflicted by ourselves, upon ourselves, as in violent crime and cases of genocide, I can see where an eternity of rest would not be long enough. Both views seem narrow, though, when we remember […]

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Juncos, Seaweed, and Mold

Poor Helga Crane. I must confess, I did not expect that within its last thirty pages, Nella Larsen’s Quicksand would turn into an out-and-out tragedy. But that is exactly what it did, all seemingly the result of an ill-timed walk in the rain. Heartbreaking it was, to this reader at a distance of nearly a century, that even death would say, No, you have not suffered enough — heartbreaking especially […]

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The Mind of the Multitude

It’s darker now, at one in the afternoon, than it is on the darkest of winter days. At six this morning I walked slowly to the second stop sign and back, the air smoky, everything coated with ash. The walk took, I would guess, about seven minutes. Then I watered the plants and gave some of them a bath. They depend on me. They are where they are because I […]

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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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