William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘The San Joaquin Valley’

Disaster

During my San Joaquin Valley childhood, there were still a few boxcars used as homes, tucked away in odd corners on useless bits of land. Nestled in mounds of chickweed, with old blown tires and chickens in the yard, they seemed like seeds scattered by a giant’s hand, or fruit fallen from a tree in a homegrown fairy tale. Life inside could not have been comfortable, too cold in winter, […]

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Then and Now

Flies on the screen late in the fall, worn out and slow, less rumble than show, in shiny old armor. The grapes gone, the vineyard leaves yellowing, the weeds spent and dry. Not a drop of rain. Walnuts drying in big wooden boxes leaning against the shed. In front of the house, at the side of the road, a boy steps out of a big yellow bus. Thoughtfully, absently, presently, […]

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Piano Man

The printed certificate with ornamental border shows that I was born in 1956, on the twentieth day of the month of May, in the small town of Dinuba, in the county of Tulare, in the central part of the San Joaquin Valley of California, southeast of the much larger town of Fresno. The third of three sons, I was named William on the third day after my glorious Sunday afternoon […]

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Winter Light and the Old Royal

Winter Light and the Old Royal

Somewhere in the house — I can only guess where — there’s a sturdy flat box meant to hold a ream of paper, with a patterned lid that fits neatly over the bottom portion; this box contains a long story I wrote for adults who are children, and for children who are adults — a sort of Huck Finn lightly fictionalized family history set on the farm where my father […]

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Tea Stains and Powder Clouds

As I see it, when I remember something, a new version of the past is created, which, however much like the previous versions, is subtly altered by the very act of recall, along with whatever else has happened or not happened since the original was first made and lived. This is why, when I am suddenly confronted with hard evidence from bygone years, I will sometimes go into a kind […]

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As Any Thing That Is

I’ve lived in Oregon for more than half of my sixty-two years, yet rare is the day I don’t think about the place of my birth. And there are numerous dreams. Back in 2014, this one became a poem. And yes, there really were nights like this.   As Any Thing That Is Another night in the old hometown. The streets we used to roam. The lights are out. There […]

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Into a Strange Land

This poem is from Volume 3 of Songs and Letters and was written in 2005. There are twenty-four volumes in all. Back then, I did my writing at an old kitchen table from my childhood home. Our youngest son has it now. Since 2009, I’ve been using my mother’s old desk. If I remember correctly, she bought it from a retired school teacher who lived in the next town, about […]

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Ghost and Cathedral

As I look over them now, I think most of the old Notebook entries from my first website, I’m Telling You All I Know, are better off left unread. But a few, like “Ghost and Cathedral,” and the piece I added earlier this year in August, are worth preserving. Already more than nine years old, I might have written it yesterday, so accurate it remains, and so dear the memory. […]

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Where Dragonflies Sleep

Somewhere between 1965 and 1968, a box of fifty Santa Fe Fairmont cigars cost eight dollars at the liquor store next to United Market. The price for a transistor radio battery was nineteen cents — three cents more than a single cigar. I was too young then to buy cigars. But I smoked them, indirectly, when my father lit one. Back then, he smoked several a day. But he quit […]

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