Saturday, October 31, 2009

The War

Several of my friends, who are suddenly much older, have been summoned to “the war.” It breaks my heart to see them as they arrive one by one, uprooted from their families, lives, and cares, to receive their orders and gear. One with whom I’m very close stops at a little wooden booth called the “supply depot,” but the only supplies left are pencils. He takes an unsharpened one from the counter, then turns and looks my way. His questioning expression reminds me that I’m supposed to accompany him to the train, which I haven’t seen, but imagine as a human cattle car like those Solzhenitsyn described in The Gulag Archipelago. But instead of showing him the way, I lead him out into a field of bones, thinking, “Someday, someone, somewhere, has to say no.”

Added yesterday to the Annandale Dream Gazette.

Recently Linked: My thanks to Barbara for sharing my poem, “Crows over a Cornfield,” on her blog, cloudpapers. Thanks also to Pallav Gogoi for signing on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. You can visit his main blog here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sail the Ship

A minute ago in the kitchen, after I’d poured my second cup of coffee, my son stopped singing “All Together Now” long enough to say, “That cup of coffee is taller than you are.”

In the Forum: Dunn to calm you down, Lockie to stir you up.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Home is a Strange Place

Home is a strange place, my father here, alive again, knee-deep in a pile of leaves. Angles and eaves and broken-down tables; shadows on paths through the trees. I want to smoke, but each match is snuffed by the breeze. The book falls apart in my hand. I notice a car in the yard. My father is behind the wheel. I slide in on the passenger side. The dash is alive, a futuristic arrangement of buttons and blinking lights. One of them is white — much to my surprise, it’s a cigarette lighter. In my father’s hand, the end of it burns like a star. I hold up a large uncured tobacco leaf. Night intervenes; with an old rag, he wipes a constellation from the windshield.

Added this morning to the Annandale Dream Gazette. My thanks, as always, to Lynn Behrendt.

In the Forum: blood ain’t tabasco.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The universe as pipe-smoke or shepherd-song.

(first publication)

“Perspective” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: aging swingers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Whittleweecumble is not a word.
But whittle is, and so is wee,
And cumble rhymes with bumble.
Whittleweecumble went to bed,
Delighted from head to toe.
The only child of Mr. and Mrs. Weecumble,
Whittle was a shiny little teapot —
Or so it was told from town to town.
In Brattlesby they heard it,
All the way down to Nornsfeather,
Where the mayor spoke
The bright-red dialect of chickens
And no one had heard of TV.
Blue rain sputtered in the dust there,
The breeze was yellow and green.
Farmers grew pickles on trees,
Librarians mined precious ice cream.
Such was life in Nornsfeather,
Each day from noon to three.
The citizens thought it was splendid,
And so did Whittle, you see,
Who loved to sit on the stove,
Gleaming and steaming with tea.
He traveled there once in a bundle,
With Mr. and Mrs. Weecumble.
They rode on the spokes
like regular folks through miles
of bacon and eggs.
They sizzled and grumbled —
Oh! how they fumbled
To untwist their tiny old legs.
In Nornsfeather they looked like pretzels,
And were scooped up by Grady O’Sam.
I can sell them at my tavern, said he,
Along with my whiskey and jam.
Pleased were the bards
While playing their cards
To find pretzels such as these.
But when they saw Whittle’s spigot
They started to fidget
Like men who were covered with fleas.
Grady! cried they, Oh, Grady, Grady O’Sam!
Why do these pretzels have knees?
Grady came running.
I thought you were funning, said he,
And noticed the aroma of tea.
It’s Whittleweecumble! the bards all sang,
Friend, we have heard of thee.
We thought you were a pretzel.
And though it was late for the others’ fate,
Whittleweecumble was grateful.
From that moment forward,
Grady served oysters and beer.
Whittleweecumble, wouldn’t you know it,
Fell in love with a kettle of soup.
It happened quite sweetly.
He fell in quite neatly,
And Grady paid for the group.

From Songs and Letters, originally published September 14, 2005.

In the Forum: a celebrity showdown.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Between Poems

Between Poems
October 25, 2009
#2 Pencil on Index Card

[click to enlarge]

In the Forum: I-am-bic, god of pens.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


On the sidewalk, among the leaves,
one winks up at me.

I will ask

(first publication)

“Decision” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: “I’m a little pink jar on a little pink shelf / & I’ve just become aware of myself.”

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Back to the Garden

[click to enlarge]

10.24.2009 #2
10.24.2009 #1


Five stone steps between
two houses

a monument
to friends who have flown

(first publication)

“Unearthed” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Yellow Fever

Fig leaves so bright, the birds don’t sleep at night.

(first publication)

Elsewhere: My thanks to Lola Koundakjian for posting another poem from The Painting of You.

“Yellow Fever” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: melancholy crackers.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Autumn Sunset

Autumn Sunset
October 21, 2009
#2 Pencil on Index Card

[click to enlarge]

Recently Linked: My thanks to Paul L. Martin for linking to the entry about my book, The Painting of You, in his excellent blog,
The Teacher’s View.

In the Forum: “Whitman chopped wood. Time to stack it in the shed.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


She laughs at the yellow leaf
tangled in her hair

then gives me
her hand

(first publication)

Recently Linked: A friendly welcome and my thanks to victorbite, who has signed on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. He has two blogs: Sincera concreción and Project Mayhem.

Elsewhere: My thanks to Lola Koundakjian for including my poem, “The Sunlight on My Mother’s Face,” in the Armenian Poetry Project. The poem is the first in my new book, The Painting of You.

“Birches” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: whiskey and tuna.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Imagine a world
where faces and voices
are all the same,
and people
know each other
by reaching out
and touching
their hands.

Imagine these hands
as living records
of character,
sorrow, and joy.

Some of the hands
are warm, gentle,
and forgiving,
some are scarred
and wise, a blessing.

Other hands are cold,
the kind of hands
no other hand wants
to touch, the kind
that do not want
to be touched,
that hide themselves
in pockets or pretend
they are busy with
some important,
empty task.

Imagine the moment
when hands first meet.

Imagine your hand
caressing the hand
of a stranger,
and his hand or hers
caressing yours,
and the miracle
that unfolds
when both hands
quietly yield.

Imagine the distance
two hands might travel,
the valleys and the roads,
the river beds, meadows,
and burned out woods.

Imagine the granite
of experience
as it melts and runs
like fragrant honey
down your arms,
penetrates your skin,
your heart, your mind.

From Songs and Letters, originally published February 25, 2006.

Recently Linked: My thanks to Joseph Hutchison for linking to my “dream file” at Annandale Dream Gazette in his post yesterday. When you’re there, be sure to follow the link to his dream — the first of his included in that intriguing publication.

My thanks also to Mairi, who has signed on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. Mairi contributes to The Plumbline School and writes the blog Secret Poems from the Times Literary Supplement.

In the Forum: a sweeping act of major inconsequence.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Have been falling, all day, through the absence of whatever was here before.

10.19.2009 #2
10.19.2009 #1


A house in which no room exists until I enter it,
and the ones I leave wither and fall away.

October 18, 2009
#2 Pencil on Index Card

[click to enlarge]

Recently Linked: My thanks to Lola Koundakjian, founder and curator of the Armenian Poetry Project, for posting an announcement about my new release, The Painting of You.

“Me” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: an intriguing proposition.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Coffee Companion

Coffee Companion
October 17, 2009
#2 Pencil on Index Card

[click to enlarge]

In the Forum: greasy kids and unfiltered palms.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

6 a.m.

6 a.m.
October 16, 2009
#2 Pencil on Index Card

[click to enlarge]

In the Forum: a scenario generator in need of a tune-up.

Friday, October 16, 2009

After the War

In the ruins

the sun

the column

the step
an ant

its way


(first publication)

“After the War” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: I left my pizza in San Francisco.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Early Morning, After a Dream

First a train horn, mournful,
low, and long. Then the ghostly figure
of a child and his locomotive
beside me on the floor. Or
is it the other way

(first publication)

“Early Morning, After a Dream” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: filet mignon pizza.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Child with a Lantern in a Dream

Now you can see, Mr. Sun,
that there is nothing
to be afraid

(first publication)

“Child with a Lantern in a Dream” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

As the Conversation continues, a dip in the pocket becomes a trip to South Carolina.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Autumn Detail

One last ladybug

cold upon
a leaf



(first publication)

Recently Linked: A very special thanks to Vassilis Zambaras for his new poem, “Starlings.” I once said that I would love to be a word in one of his poems. If you haven’t already visited his blog, I highly recommend you spend some time there. Vassilis is a great poet who creates a magic all his own.

“Autumn Detail” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Monday, October 12, 2009


As he pondered his reflection in the glass, he could feel his claws curling tightly in his shoes.

first episode
second episode

Note: I’ve added some information about ordering books directly from me to the entry about my new release, The Painting of You.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


A singing tree

hidden by

ripe nuts

out of reach

(first publication)

“Longing” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


In the terminal itself, he saw hundreds of people with their feathers cleverly concealed. After circling twice, he landed outside a bookstore. In the window display, there was a title giving advice on how to be yourself. He let out a painful little squawk.

first episode

Recently Linked: A friendly welcome to Jonathan Chant, who has signed on as a follower of this blog.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Level Four

While crossing the skybridge between the parking garage and the airport terminal, he rejoiced in the wind on his feathers.

Recently Linked: My thanks to Deborah Cates for signing on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature.

In the Forum: dipping into the beer fund.

Information about the release of The Painting of You added to the Main Page and News and Reviews.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Painting of You

The Painting of You
Author’s Press Series, Vol. 1
ISBN: 978-0-557-12874-7
80 pages. Paper. $10.00
eBook: $4.00

Alzheimer’s Disease. Autobiography. Dreams.
Family History. Memoir. Poetry.

I’m delighted to present the first volume in my Author’s Press Series. Copies can be ordered securely online here*. A complete electronic edition — an eBook with front and back cover images — is also available for download here.

*If you’d like to order directly from me for any reason — you’d like a signed copy, you don’t have a credit card or would rather not use one online, etc., — I’d be happy to oblige. Just drop me a line using the email address at the bottom of the page and we’ll go from there. Paypal is an excellent option.

Book Description: Designed and published by William Michaelian, the Author’s Press Series was conceived as a set of relatively inexpensive, uniformly designed titles meant to explore different themes and facets of his writing. The eighty entries in this first volume, The Painting of You, blend poetry and prose written in a three-year period during which the author was caring for his mother in her home while she was battling Alzheimer’s Disease. The difficulties they faced are set against a revealing backdrop of family history, daily life, and dreams, as their roles are reversed and their friendship is deepened and colored by change.

Paul L. Martin at The Teacher’s View
Annie Wyndham at Jottings of an AmeriQuebeckian
Joseph Hutchison at The Perpetual Bird
Chrees at A Common Reader

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Ah, the life of a dream when the images flee and the rhyme remains.

(first publication)

“After” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: epidemic, or hideous dark secret?

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Actor

In Scene One,
I shiver
beside a vent
in lollipop
alone in an
antiseptic room.

Strangers call me
Dad and bring
me macaroni;
I paint the walls
with a dribble
and a grin.

They go out again,
shoes on ice,
tundra in the hall;
a cold north wind
blows closed
the sterile,
numbered door.

No one hears
the slam;
I build a fire
and dance
before the flames.

In Scene Two,
when the maid
comes in
to make my bed,
she doesn’t notice
I am dead,
speaks kindly,
stirs the coals.

In Scene Three,
we are wed;
I take up Solitaire,
she lights cigarettes
and leans against
the door, sultry
in her tattered gown.

Our carriage arrives
each day at noon
and leaves again at one;
while we dream inside,
the driver pretends
he’s glad to be alone.

He knows when
not to prattle;
to see the world
we’re denied,
my bride throws
back the sash.

A caravan of fools
with useless limbs
and empty heads.

In my room
a cheerful crash,
as another tree
goes down.

In my room
a soft caress,
before the truth
is found.

In Scene Four,
a knock comes
at the door;
it is evening now,
starlight enters
without a sound.

I stand behind
the curtain,
ready to go on.

From Songs and Letters, originally published December 10, 2005.

Recently Linked: O, begor, ... I can psoakoonaloose myself any time I want. My thanks to Scott Wilson for using the odd little drawing of mine that accompanies the summary of Finnegans Wake on my website to illustrate his erudite blog entry on Joyce’s masterpiece (or one of them, anyway).

In the Forum: a message from the dead letter office.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Baker’s Table

The sixty-some-odd albums on this old baker’s table contain most, but by no means all of our family photos. The oldest belonged to my father’s parents and his brother. Some of the largest and thickest are filled with scenes from my childhood, which, I have long felt, began many years before I was born. The rest catalog numerous domestic scenes, our various travels, and other milestones.

The drawers in the table itself contain, or used to contain — I think I might have moved them into the typewriter well of my mother’s desk, where I’m working now — the travel documents used by my grandfather and his mother when the surviving portion of his family left Turkey to come to the United States in 1906. These documents are quite large and colorful and look almost like maps.

The drawers also contain some old newspapers and clippings that I haven’t had time yet to study. One thing the curved bin doesn’t contain is flour: there is no way the table could withstand a session with a rolling pin.

Where did the table come from? The house of my grandfather’s cousin in Fresno. Her father, Tateos, ran a restaurant in town in the early part of the twentieth century — a gathering place for recent arrivals and lonely misfits trying to make their way in the New World. I still drink coffee from a flowery demitasse once used there.

[click to enlarge]

“Baker’s Table” added to Penny Thoughts and Photographs.

In the Forum: edgy, gritty, and no-holds-barred.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Call for Reservations

Call for Reservations
October 3, 2009

[click to enlarge]

10.3.2009 #2
10.3.2009 #1


I know one damn thing for sure:
if the devil doesn’t show,
it’ll be a long walk
back to town.

From Songs and Letters, originally published January 16, 2008.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ward 6

A faded poem aside its bed,
numb in its sunken chest;

its flesh and bones,
its breath, the wind.

(first publication)

“Ward 6” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: introducing American Idle.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


A dream I can’t remember
that makes me think of home

the hush of death in a dark,
dark room — petals black

that somehow glow
in the palms

of cold,
still hands

Recently Linked: My thanks to artist and poet Momo Luna for signing on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. Momo Luna has two blogs: Momo Luna Signals and Secrets of Death.

Thanks also to Kevin and Rachel for linking here from their blogs.

In the Forum: idle barrels vs. restless or active barrels.