William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘The San Joaquin Valley’

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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Shadows on the Sidewalk

For sidewalk, Walt Whitman liked to use the word trottoir. Offhand, I can think of no other nineteenth century American writer who did so — this, of course, based on my faulty memory and limited reading. Word choice aside, one thing I’m noticing this time through his Specimen Days, is that buildings and trains are every bit as alive to him as oaks and sparrows — indeed, in his poetic […]

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When I Stand

Closing out this quiet round of winter record-keeping, the present offering follows “So Many Angels” and “Between the Ivy and the Big Rhododendron.” I wonder what the old cemetery looks like now, and if it remembers me. A crazy question, I guess. Of course it does.   When I Stand When I stand, I marvel at the almost-feeling where my appendix used to be. It’s as if its ancient forgotten […]

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I Am Redeemed

I would rather spend the day in a country graveyard than in a shopping mall. Is that so strange? I would rather handle old books and antiques than plastic merchandise. Does that make me odd? Is it obsolete to think the finest jewels are raindrops hanging from a naked limb? And that if there ever was, is, or will be a god, she is here to love me back again? […]

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A Thimbleful of Ash

My mother writing Christmas cards, late into the night. The darkest time. The greatest light. December 6, 2019   A Thimbleful of Ash If you don’t eat your supper, Santa won’t visit us tonight. All the cookies will go to waste, the cards, the toys, the bows. A fire in the fireplace. The front door left unlocked. Somehow, Santa knows. On the porch, a stack of wood. Long lives, a […]

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A Sturdy Leaf

Memory’s a sturdy leaf — sycamore, say, or valley oak, placed beneath a sheet of grade school paper fleck’d and grain’d, and a crayon in your hand — rubb’d across its ribs and veins, it surfaces in your chosen color — and all you love begins again — father, mother, supper table, open kitchen window — and somewhere, off in the distance, carry’d nigh by the divine providence of dust […]

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Honeysuckle and Lemon

When a young man rhymes, we smile and nod. When old, he is forgiven. When in between, we shake our heads, and think we understand him. Or do we just pretend? Fool that I am, I can never tell. But I wish him well. I wish him well. For that is love, and this is heaven.   Honeysuckle and Lemon Paneled wall in oaken hue, piano in corner near wood […]

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Country Life

He’s kissing a girl who’s been packing peaches, elbow-deep in fuzz. She’s damp with sweat and has tired breath — it’s hot and the hours are long. In the house, the old farmer almost sleeps through lunch. His wife watches through the window — she knows the boy — but of course it’s his parents she really knows. And anyway, it’s not her daughter, the pretty girl from town, just […]

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