Thursday, September 21, 2017

Canvas 1,030



Canvas 1,030

September 21, 2017


I used to want a big old house
in the country with beckoning stairs
and rooms for every mood,
but the children grew
and now I just
want you.

Yes, love, time
has flown.
And it’s cold
again this year.
I can feel it in my bones.
I can feel it here, and here, and here.

“Two Graves”
Songs and Letters, December 4, 2006



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Precious brevity


My thanks to friend and founding editor Robin White for including Canvases 927 and 928 in her beautiful Fall 2017 issue of Akitsu Quarterly. I’m deeply moved to see them in print, and am relieved on their behalf that they escaped my ever-lengthening parade of lonely-blissful misfits. But there is much more to Robin’s publication than these two drawings. There is such a lovely spirit in this collection of haiku from around the world — an insightful hush and calm, if you will, that restores one’s balance. Precious brevity, where all else seems a landslide of words.



Canvas 927


Canvas 928








Tuesday, September 19, 2017

No more


I don’t believe in war. I am grown up. I am sixty-one years old. I love all the school children. I love all the young people in love. I love the leaves as they fall. The buds as they come on. I feel sad when I accidentally cause the death of a bug. I’m a tree myself. A rock. The moss. I love the streets. I love the countryside. I love the little broken-down farm houses and cemeteries. People, walking. Holding hands. Laughing. Crying. Millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and if you want me to agree with this or that justification — well, just forget it, that’s all. Keep your flags. Your pride. Your borders. Your frightened bully guns. I know what they represent, I knew when I was fourteen, I know now, and I’ve seen and had and lost enough to know that love is the real courage, the real bravery, and I’m not afraid to say it, I’m not afraid to appear weak, I am not ashamed to admit that I can’t live without the help of others, or to say that I love all the people of the world, all of our languages, all of our kinds, all of our colors, and that I am sorry for any animosity I may have created during my life, known to me or unknown, any contribution I have made to unhappiness and misunderstanding, or to publicly recognize that it was due to my ignorance and arrogance even though I always meant well. But I was scared. And therein lies a revealing truth: the stronger you wish to appear, the more scared you are. Of yourself. Of life. Of love. You don’t want simplicity. You shun the obvious answer. You demand complication. You are afraid to stand up in front of the world and take my hand, the hand of someone you have never met, and say, “We will live this way no more.” All these powerful people, afraid to lose their money, afraid to appear weak, all they have to do is stand up and hold hands and say, “No more.” Then they will know what strength is. Then we can feed the hungry and care for the ill and the old. And they know this deep down. That is why their faces are disfigured and cold. You’ve seen it. You know. Have pity for them. Show them how.


Hunger


By my faulty, limited reckoning, this poem is about fifteen years old. It is also as old as the hills. Too old. New? No. Yes. Painfully so. There is something about fall. The first rain. Bus loads of school children. Waving tired moms. What does any of it have to do with cabbages? I don’t know. Nothing? Everything? And in the end, it really isn’t that much of a poem. Or a poem at all. Except, what isn’t?

*

Hunger

Long ago,
on a street corner
in the city where I was born,
there was a dump truck
full of large green cabbages
parked in the mud.
The driver of the truck
raised the bed,
forming a mountain of cabbage
on the ground.
Suddenly, from nowhere,
several dozen women appeared,
as if they had been waiting
beneath the pavement itself.
In exchange for their tears
and in some cases
a few small coins,
the truck driver,
an unshaven man in his sixties,
handed cabbages to the women.
A short while later
the cabbages,
the women,
and the truck driver
were gone.
But hunger remained.
For a long time,
hunger remained.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Canvas 1,013



Canvas 1,013

September 7, 2017




Knowing you as I do


And now, a little announcement: As some of you know, back in 2007, Cosmopsis Books published two books of poetry bearing my name. In 2011, the same concern released a limited tenth anniversary print edition of my novel, A Listening Thing. Now, sad to say, they have closed their doors. The three titles are officially out of print, and the remaining copies are in my possession. There are 28 each of Winter Poems and Another Song I Know, and 23 of A Listening Thing. The good news is, as long as this small supply lasts, I am able to send copies to anyone who asks. I expect no money for this. So if you would like a copy of one or the other or all three, you need only drop me a line. Give them to yourself, give them to a friend, give them to someone in need. Sell them online, make a fortune, add them to your portfolio, use them to build the retirement fund of your dreams. Or — read them. Now there’s a novel idea. The accompanying link will take you to a page chock-full of information, comments, and links to reviews. I’ll close with my email address. Feel free to drop me a line. In the meantime, many, many thanks to those of you who purchased copies back in the day. Knowing you as I do, I can proudly say it has been an exchange of friendship and love from the beginning. Thank you. May it remain so.


william.michaelian@gmail.com



The rain, the owl, and other things


During the night, at about one-thirty, we were awakened by numerous bright flashes of lightning. This was accompanied by thunder, which sounded like a giant’s footsteps moving nearer and nearer from the east. Finally, enormous raindrops began pelting our bathroom skylight. But the rain lasted only a minute or two, and the night stayed smoky and humid and warm. Then, about two hours later, after dozing off and on in a state of pleasant delirium, I heard an owl hooting from one of the fir trees in our backyard. And I thought — or, rather, I think now — that whether they realize it or not, those who mock others’ beliefs are secretly afraid they might be true. Whereas, if we understand that it is self-defeating to define this life in the narrow terms dictated by our pain and our fear, and by our limited knowledge or lack thereof, then the very idea of possessing the truth evaporates in the dark just like last night’s owl. You know it was there, but you don’t try to hang onto it. You let it go and greet whatever is next with solemn joy and a feeling of gratitude that you are here.



Canvas 1,012



Canvas 1,012

September 7, 2017




Canvas 1,011



Canvas 1,011

September 7, 2017




Wednesday, September 6, 2017

With each passing day


Fires, hurricanes, politics — it can hardly be denied that we are exposed to a daily diet of terrible, traumatic, and shameful news. But through it all, I have noticed something very interesting. With each passing day, I find I am making a greater, more conscious effort to treat everyone I meet with kindness and love — and not just people, but plants and animals. Now, I don’t want to belabor this and go off on a philosophical tear. I only want to note that if this is so with me, then it must also be so with others, and by the millions. We are of this life. How else could it be? I suppose this is why I am hopeful in the face of it all, rather than angry, discouraged, or depressed. As miserable as things can be, for those of us lucky enough to survive, hard times are a gift. Hate is an immature, embarrassing option, not worthy of our better nature. Hateful actions by others are a reminder to get at the root of the darkness in our own lives, whatever that darkness may be. Feelings of anger, self-righteousness, and superiority prove only that there is more work to do. Love, and that work becomes joy.



Canvas 1,010



Canvas 1,010

September 6, 2017