William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Writing’

Snow Lessons

Your face is calendar enough for me, the lines, the seasons — what need of dates, where light and touch and grace agree? January 1, 2021 . Snow Lessons To write with the breath, to draw without touching a thing. Are these not snow lessons, and the patient teachings of steam? You say, This pen. This page. These keys. How can I not touch them? And from deep inside comes […]

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I Wonder Where They Come From

We have visited briefly with Ross Freeman three times thus far. I skip ahead now to the end of his story, with the complete text of the closing chapter. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the feeling of friendship is strong upon me, and the end of The Smiling Eyes of Children, among other things, seems to express something of the gratitude I feel for the wonderful people I have met […]

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In Lieu Of

Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Wells Brown are both in Europe now, seeing the sights, meeting people, writing their observations and travel notes. One is a free man, wondering what freedom really is. The other is a fugitive, who knows what freedom is, or thinks he does. This leaves us to ask the reader of these two books if he knows. And he replies by saying that whatever he knows, […]

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As It Is Written

I have pruned orchards, and rows and rows of vines. Mud on the ladder, frost on the ground. This makes me different somehow. Cold toes. Orange peels. The bright fur coats of faithful hounds. Now my pen has wooden handles, with a blade at the end. In the fog, its voice makes the strangest sound. November 29, 2020 . As It Is Written After a long day’s work, the writer […]

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Originality and Skill

One might write as well as, or better than, Emerson or Montaigne, and the sum of that writing be nothing more than an echo or derivative shadow. In any given moment, all it needs is a leap to be skyward or hell-bound. Either will do, as long as the sky and the hell are one’s own. November 19, 2020 . [ 934 ]

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For Better or For Worse

It breaks my heart to see a long-married couple out for a walk together, but not walking together, the man ahead, the woman behind, the assumed command and superiority in his carriage, hers subservient, with neck slightly bent and head held just so, as if fearing to cause his displeasure. And yet they are out together. Why? What are their secret pains, their secret pasts, their secret thoughts? How long […]

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Smoke and Quicksand

Yesterday afternoon, after reading several chapters of Nella Larsen’s novel, Quicksand, I had put the book aside to rest my eyes when a question came to mind: how long, I wondered, has it been since I would rather be doing something else? As I thought about this, the days, weeks, and months of my strange quiet life quickly gave way to years — so it is, at least, that long. […]

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Canvas 456 — As a Shepherd

Again I ask myself, what of these strange drawings? Many years ago, I said they were all self-portraits. But now I wonder. Doesn’t that imply a bit too strongly that I existed prior to them, and that I am the one who made them, rather than the other way around? What seemed true then, feels much less so now. Might it not be that my existence was, and is, born […]

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The Horizontal Life

Here in the time of yellowing maples and drifting leaves, the falls and streams are charged with new life by the recent thunderstorms. Numerous spiderwebs cross the path, so fine that one is not aware of them until they are broken in passing through; removed from around the forehead and eyes, parts still cling; or maybe it is the memory of their touch that has not quite died away. At […]

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Long Gray Train (I Pay the Porter)

I woke up in the middle of the night needing a sip of water. I walked down the hall, and as I passed through the dark sitting room, a sentence sprang to mind, or the beginning of a sentence — a phrase, a breath, a sound, a combination of sounds — a powerful suggestion, insistent, dreamlike, meaningful, profound, but I didn’t have the focus to pick up a pen and […]

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