William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Van Gogh’

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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St. Rémy

May 1889. Vincent has just entered the asylum at St. Rémy. Or have I entered it in July 2020? I close my eyes. Careful consideration yields no definite answer; rather, the image of a giant colorful moth is imprinted on the inside of my eyelids, very much in the way stars appear in the night sky. I paint the moth; I paint the sky; and, while painting, I wonder how […]

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Self-Portrait in White

The third volume of Vincent’s letters. Yesterday afternoon, he cut off a piece of his ear. July 15, 2020   Self-Portrait in White A man and his donkey; a snowy field; a cart full of bones. The wind. Poems, Slightly Used, November 10, 2009 [ 807 ]

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May Day

I’m still reading Vincent’s letters, and will be for quite some time. I continue with Thoreau’s journal, a fourteen-volume project. I’m about fifty pages into William Wetmore Story and His Friends, from Letters, Diaries, and Recollections, by Henry James, published in two volumes in 1904. I’ve begun the Library of America edition of John Muir’s nature writings. And I’ve just finished at Home with Disquiet, a wonderful new collection of […]

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Vincent to Theo, Letter 133, July 1880

. . . What shall I say? Do our inner thoughts ever show outwardly? There may be a great fire in our soul, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke coming through the chimney, and go along their way . . . Primitive, Pencil on Index Card, 2009 Even at this distance / how we are alone / […]

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Dear Theo

It is perhaps not that strange in these virus times, to want to hurry and read something before I die — and yet there it is — the thought arrives unbidden — and so I set it down, not knowing whether it is prescient or the result of a life-long habit of fictionalizing my existence. The book in question consists of three volumes, and contains the letters of Vincent Van […]

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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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Van Gogh’s Dream

How strange it all is. Outside the grocery store, there was a large rack holding around two dozen potted sunflowers, each plant with a bright, cheerful bloom. I said to my wife, “If I could really paint or draw, I would make a similar scene, with one addition — Van Gogh, crazed, looking on. And each of his eyes would be sunflowers.”   Van Gogh’s Dream One day, Van Gogh […]

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Slow Dance

And what of school? I remember our sturdy little desks in rows, bright, flat crayons, and how their taste resembled their smell, jars of glue, the heavy-paper mess, girls with long straight hair and curls, their fragrant dress, the playground, races, marble games and spinning tops, climbing bars and tractor tires stood up in the ground. And, not far off, in a cloud of dragonflies and dust, a country graveyard […]

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