William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘The American Civil War’

Flames

Another Library of America book purchase: William Wells Brown: Clotel and Other Writings. Violence at Oregon’s state capitol — flags, baseball bats, guns. Only humans are intelligent enough to express themselves in this manner. High winds from the east. Smoke and ash. Fires raging in the Cascades. Widespread evacuations. Windows closed against the elements. Early morning. Here in the dark, one thinks of the birds. The cricket in the rhododendron […]

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Remember This Always

The park by the river is now a vast dried flower arrangement, mixed ever so lightly with Queen Anne’s Lace, mostly in its ornamental seed stage. Instead of sweetness, pollen, and a hum in the air, the hushed atmosphere is ripe and beyond; there is dust, there is decay, almost as if heaven has heard our voices, and reluctantly looked away. The berries have been picked; the hops harvest is […]

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Laughing

Early morning. Goose Lake is nearly as full as we’ve seen it and is sprouting lilies by the thousand, some just beginning to bloom. From our vantage point, the water hugging the far shore seems higher than the ground we’re on, the surface alive with yellow stars. Everything’s in a state of fragrant intensity; every life-form, animal, vegetable, and mineral, is rapt in the sacred rite of spring. We’re exalted […]

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Troonk and Hamph

Among other things, in his journal entry for May 25, 1852, Thoreau mentions hearing the first troonk of a bullfrog — a lovely word, although I have for years spelled the sound hamph — this based on my recurring basso profondo imitation of bullfrogs heard while drifting with my father in his twelve-foot aluminum boat down California’s Kings River, in that lazy stretch below the town of Reedley where it […]

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Long Island Line

In the form of his complete poetry and prose, Walt Whitman has been a daily companion of mine for the last three months. Today I opened and closed the uncommon-common book of his life for the last time — but not, if I am granted the necessary health and a similar span of years, for ever or for all time. Clearly, there is much about our time that would not […]

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Sunday’s Child

At long last I can say I have read Leaves of Grass — every word, in the poet’s final edition. I can also say that I have read each poem aloud, phrase by phrase, line by line, slowly, patiently, thoughtfully, carefully listening all the while. I had read Walt Whitman before. I had read his 1855 first edition, and many of his poems at random. And about fifteen years ago, […]

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The Sunlight on My Mother’s Face

Well before daylight, in the sublime quiet, reading the letters of a thoughtful young man who later lost his life in the Civil War at the age of twenty-nine: Charles Russell Lowell, nephew of the great writer and poet, James Russell Lowell. Then, suddenly, raindrops — so few in number it reminds me of my mother sprinkling water on her ironing. June 26, 2019   The Sunlight on My Mother’s […]

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The Day I Photographed Lincoln

Immersed as I have been in the humble, candid, beautifully written memoirs and letters of the great Civil War generals Grant and Sherman, it would be odd indeed if this old poem of mine did not come to mind. And then there is the biographical, historical masterwork by Carl Sandburg, the six-volume Abraham Lincoln, given us in two parts: the two-volume Prairie Years, and the four-volume War Years. Sandburg, born […]

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