William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Walt Whitman’

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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Traces

Thoreau, off on a tramp, writing by moonlight. Whitman, bending a sapling to test his paralyzed strength. Bathing in ponds. Crow-voices. Wild flowers. Bumblebees. The nighttime parade of stars. The names of ferry-boat captains. Snow to the waist. Ice-cakes in the river. Big families. Poetry. Geology. Boot laces. Wild carrots. The end of the war. My hand on the knob. Your knock on the door.

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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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Unnumbered Poem

After I finish reading the Library of America edition of Walt Whitman’s complete poems and prose, and when the wind dies down, I think I will turn to Emily Dickinson — 1960, Boston: Little, Brown. October 30, 2019   Unnumbered Poem If each act isn’t sacred, and each moment divine, tell me, then — who are you, and what do you do with your time?

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Whispers

Dahlia leaves, intensely green after a thunderstorm. Ferns and moss, a fertile, humid prayer. Cleaning the iris bed — old, worn mothers with their fearless children. The scent of mushrooms soon to sprout. A friendly neighbor says a spirit haunts his house. Books — Walt Whitman and John Muir. Melville and Thoreau. And how strange Emerson, if he’d had a beard. September 12, 2019

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Vessels

On the road. After sleeping well in a strange bed, I think of dead friends and family members, and how, since I carry them with me, they too have traveled. The flickering lights of boats anchored offshore, like the lowest of low stars. Along the steep wooded path that leads to the sand, wild cucumbers already in bloom, stars for rabbits and carpenter ants. The ocean sky at dawn — […]

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When Last In the Dooryard

Bury me with the old gray hat. Let it rest on my chest and cover my hands, that each new spring may imagine them.   When Last In the Dooryard Now the lilac’s in bloom. Have y’noticed how flowers use their voices, And how some need only whisper To be heard? Recently Banned Literature, April 26, 2018

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Letter to Walt Whitman, and Walt Whitman’s Reply

Following are companion entries from the first volume of Songs and Letters, written and posted on consecutive days in April 2005. I don’t pretend they are important in any way, or even very good; heartfelt, yes, and certainly revealing; but as to what they reveal, I will humbly, gratefully leave to you. Gone are the days wherein I would be embarrassed by something I’ve written. Ample are the times I […]

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