William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘The San Joaquin Valley’

Not Dying

This piece, another entry from Songs and Letters, was written August 3, 2005. The friend referred to is Glen Ragsdale, the artist who did the painting that appears on my book, The Painting of You. You can read a little more about Glen and see his painting here.   Not Dying After my friend told me he was diagnosed with cancer and had been given a year and a half […]

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Photosynthesis

When I see an ad that says Last chance! I know immediately it’s for something I don’t need. What I do need is to spend as much time outside as possible. Nature never stoops to such tricks. Her treasures are inexhaustible, and all are freely given. From birth, we are drawn to her. A child in her arms is a happy child. This is written, of course, from the perspective […]

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Wild Carrots

Seventeen years — hyacinths are there now, shaded by a rapidly growing volunteer cedar. My mother is gone. We live in her house.   Wild Carrots It just occurred to me that wild carrots have sprouted only once on the slope near the sidewalk in front of my mother’s house. That was about three years ago. My sons and I noticed them while working in the area. The roots were […]

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Remember the Honeysuckle

Am I putting the puzzle together, or taking it apart? A foolish question, perhaps, since I don’t even know if all of the pieces are on the table.   Remember the Honeysuckle Remember the honeysuckle ’gainst the pillars on the porch? The place we were born is an open field now. Remember the window open to the night, the breaths and sighs of oleander bright, and tallow? We are their […]

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The King’s English

When I was about ten or twelve, I had a ten-gallon aquarium. In it were zebra fish, little darting neons, tetras, a sword fish, an angel fish, a scavenger, and a bright and very friendly silver dollar — these were their names, at least as I recall them. The angel fish and silver dollar were small when we brought them home, but they grew rapidly, the angel fish becoming stately […]

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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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Chorus

More than anything, it seems I write in terms of surprise — that yesterday was not my last chance, or this morning, or an hour ago — that I am here at all — that I am still here, that I ever was here, without really knowing what here is, or why, or how. And it might well be that this condition, this outlook — this disease if you prefer […]

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Main Street

I remember from my boyhood a man in the old hometown who had survived a tragic car accident, and whose face was disfigured beyond recognition, having been reconstructed by the doctors into a featureless, expressionless mask. In the barbershop one day, the first time I saw him, I watched from my place high in the third chair as he entered and exchanged friendly greetings with several men waiting who apparently […]

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The Old Road

One Hand Clapping February 2004

Who knows why, but this morning I find myself thinking about jackrabbits, vineyards, and dust. These are but a few significant emblems of my childhood, which, rather than ending, gradually became the insanity I labor under today. Polliwogs, crawdads, slow-moving mossy water. The sound of our tractor in the distance, the tractor and my father pursued by a cloud of blackbirds looking for bugs, seeds, and worms. As I look […]

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My Father Walking, and Twenty-Four Other Things

It occurred to me recently that I walked more than a thousand miles in the immediate neighborhood during the past year, and several hundred more on state park trails — in terms of sheer distance, roughly halfway across the continent. This is hardly a profound realization. But though it was made in small increments, the journey itself was far from mundane. And a journey it remains. Another year and I […]

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