Monday, November 30, 2009


November 29, 2009
#2 Pencil on Index Card

[click to enlarge]

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Stars and streetlights
mingle at a night convention,

fall silent when I enter
the room.

(first publication)

Recently Linked: My thanks to dicle for signing on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. A student in Istanbul, dicle has two blogs: Hear Me! and Kağıttan Ayakkabılar.

“Late” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: Gary Every’s Shadow of the OhshaD.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Philip Rowland, Longhouse, NO/ON

journal of the short poem

Issue 3
March 2006

Editor: Philip Rowland
Cover design: Hiroshi Soeda

Tokyo, Japan

Edition of 200 copies

* * *

journal of the short poem

Issue 7
Spring 2009

Editor: Philip Rowland
Cover design: Hiroshi Soeda

Tokyo, Japan

Edition of 200 copies

* * *

someone one once ran away with
by Philip Rowland

Publishers & Booksellers
Green River, Vermont

[click images to enlarge]

Note: Special thanks go to John Levy for sending me these beautiful publications.

Friday, November 27, 2009


An old man reading at a table,
a curious ghost standing beside him,
lighting the pages with a candle.

(first publication)

Note: After this was written, I remembered that I already have a poem by this title, a slightly longer piece done in 2006. I hate to repeat myself. Then again, Death does, so why can’t I?

Recently Linked: My thanks to Joe Hutchison for linking to Recently Banned Literature in his entry about Tom Montag and Tom’s blog, The Middlewesterner. Joe is right — Tom is “in the zone.”

“Death” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: a long nap.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


My friend and I were in an elevator and when the door opened we stepped out into his village in Greece. The ground was lush with soft green grass. There was dew on the grass, and a drowsy blue dragonfly on his coat. There was a small gathering of people. They were his friends and relatives, but there were also some strangers present. In halting English, a man greeted me and asked my name. He was in his sixties. His face was broad and weathered by the elements. His hair, what was left of it, was gray. I told him my name. He said, “William. What does that mean. William.” Before I could answer, he started speaking in Greek. Then he wandered off. I was alone. It occurred to me then that I would have to learn Greek. I told myself that it would be easy, if I let it be easy. I said a few words, and when I couldn’t understand them, I smiled, because they seemed to fit in with the conversation I’d heard so far. There was a wall beside me now. A wall without a ceiling. I could hear Greek voices coming from the other side of the wall. My friend was beside me. His eyes were bright with happiness. He needed a shave. It reminded me of my childhood, and touching the stubble on my father’s face. I looked at my palm. I wondered if I should. I did. He closed his eyes. “Brothers,” I said. We were now at the edge of a granite cliff. Dark clouds, patches of blue sky. A man’s shadow on the opposite wall of the canyon. Far below, a river from my youth, an old road beside it, small enough to be a worm in my hand.

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

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

In the Forum: the victim of a traumatic grafting accident.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sunday Supper

It fits in my palm,
this grape leaf

with veins that lead
to my grandma’s house.

(first publication)

“Sunday Supper” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

The release of No Time to Cut My Hair noted on the Main Page and in News and Reviews.

In the Forum: what happens when you’re bitten by 86,865 words.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

No Time to Cut My Hair

No Time to Cut My Hair
Author’s Press Series, Vol. 2
ISBN: 978-0-557-20222-5
184 pages. Paper. $12.00
eBook: $4.00

Fiction. Short Stories.

This is the second 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 second volume, No Time to Cut My Hair, is an engaging collection of seventy short stories written during a ninety-day period in 2002. While style, length, and subject matter vary, the author, noted for the brevity of his poems and the lyrical force of his prose, demonstrates a keen understanding of the short story form in pieces meant not only to be read, but heard.**

** Have I ever mentioned that I used to work in advertising?

Also in this Series
Vol. 1 — The Painting of You

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Poignant Irony

When you have a moment, please read Paul L. Martin’s review of my book, The Painting of You.

Thank you, Paul.

And my thanks to those of you who have ordered the book so far.

I remain grateful for a life so rich that words can lift us up and break our hearts.


My thanks also to James Leese for signing on as follower of Recently Banned Literature. James is an artist/designer “searching out ways of visually describing the beauty of mathematics as a fine art.” You can visit his blog, Steadfast As Thou Art, here.

I’d also like to welcome th£ ba$tard, who insists that “behind all the morals, philosophy, mind wrestling, soul searching and spirit probing, there is a true story.”

And finally, my thanks and a friendly hello to freepangaea4ever.

In the Forum: the Yawp exhibit.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Shakespeare and Company

William Shakespeare, Charles Reade, F. Scott Fitzgerald,
The Brothers Grimm, Boris Pasternak

Eight volumes
4,527 pages


[click to enlarge]

Recently Linked: My thanks to Bob Arnold for linking to my main website from his blog, A Longhouse Birdhouse. Be sure to visit his bookshop when you’re there. Thanks also to Mt. Wood for signing on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature.

In the Forum: a hundred cigars in three days.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rural Route

White birches,
or are they widows

at the well?

Dusk comes so soon.

From Songs and Letters, originally published December 29, 2008.

Coffee Time and Birch Scrolls added to Penny Thoughts and Photographs.

In the Forum, another reaction to yesterday’s Birch Scrolls: “Wow. For some reason I see birds & shamans in there; specifically, as I look closer, it’s a shaman dressed in bird-garb, one arm uplifted, feathered wings rising behind him. I’m not sure what he's up to, exactly, whether it’s a healing ritual or what. Actually the shaman is located in some particularly remote region of Siberia. The day is cloudy. There might be some chanting in the background. Really, the whole scene is rather scary.”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Birch Scrolls

Birch Scrolls
November 19, 2009

[click to enlarge]

In the Forum: Why would anyone not worship a tree?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Nightest

The Nightest
by John Levy

Publishers ~ Booksellers
Bob & Susan Arnold
Poetry, First Editions, the Arts
Green River, Vermont

The largest Longhouse foldout possible, many sheets of twenty poems
selected by Bob Arnold and designed in three color tucked into two varied papers,
heavy grassland (shown here) and brown batik.
Signed and unsigned wrap around bands.
Unsigned $12 / signed $20

[click to enlarge]

* * *

— Other Publications —

Number 7

featuring John Levy

Hassle Press: 27 Treverbyn Rd., St. Ives, Cornwall TR26 1EZ

Waiting for the Right Time
Poems & Prose
by John Levy

The Legal Studies Forum
Volume XXXII, No. 1

Note: For my review of John Levy’s book, Oblivion, Tyrants, Crumbs, go here.

Recently Linked: A friendly welcome to Vern Myers, of Beaumont Texas, who has signed on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. Vern, an environmentalist and runner, is author of the blog Running Green.

In the Forum: the birch exhibit.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Making music of our pain

This afternoon, after raking up a mountain of debris from a recent windstorm (sounds almost like I’ve been editing), I discovered this entry about my book, The Painting of You, posted by Chrees in his fine blog, A Common Reader. His thoughts are greatly appreciated, as are the questions they raise.

11.18.2009 #3
11.18.2009 #2
11.18.2009 #1

Patent Pending

“Licorice with training wheels.”

What I said to my wife when we saw some colorful “fruit twists”
at the store in the baby food aisle.

11.18.2009 #2
11.18.2009 #1.


November 17, 2009
#2 Pencil on Index Card

[click to enlarge]

In the Forum: a triumphant weed thriving against the odds.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Scene from a Recurring Childhood

Stick-horses snorting impatiently
by the school room door; the high Sierra;
the valley floor; dirt on my clothes
and hands; my father smiling,
walking this way.

(first publication)

“Scenes from a Recurring Childhood” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: book covers made from military uniforms.

Monday, November 16, 2009


My brother has been working much too hard. As he speaks, he sways from side to side, like an elephant or a bridge. All at once, his face turns gray. But his eyes are as bright as ever. My mother, young again, brings supper to the table. We sit down. The gray departs from my brother’s face. I can see dry hills through our old kitchen window.

Added yesterday to the Annandale Dream Gazette.

In the Forum: Howie and the Wolfman with traffic and the weather.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

On this Autumn Afternoon

A birch tree shudders,


“I have yellow leaves for eyes,”





(first publication)

“On this Autumn Afternoon” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: Nate Lewis and Jimi Hendrix.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Coffee Time

Coffee Time
November 13, 2009

[click to enlarge]

Recently Linked: My thanks to PO Johnson for signing on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. The poet lives in Norway and writes the blog Pumas and Johnson. He also contributes to the newly launched Flowers of Sulfur.

In the Forum: three more photos of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Self-Portrait on an Autumn Afternoon

Self-Portrait on an Autumn Afternoon
November 12, 2009

[click to enlarge]

In the Forum: a new issue of Barbaric Yawp just around the corner.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Poems for Prayers

Since I posted my get well card for Brian Salchert a couple of months ago, his sister has been kind enough to keep me informed of his health. While his hip turned out to be not as bad as originally thought, it is not expected that Brian will regain the use of his legs — a condition complicated, apparently, by a blood clot on his spine.

Through it all, Brian had been trying to use a laptop computer someone set up for him, but therapy and other activities left him with little time. Then, late this morning, I received a new message from Jean:

Brian is in the hospital again. This time he has pancreatitis. He needs a lot of prayers.

I think if I were to substitute the word “poems” for “prayers,” Brian would understand.

11.12.2009 #2
11.12.2009 #1

Autumn Fires

On the sidewalk after coffee,
my dead father appears long enough
to inhale the smoke rising from my friend’s
freshly lit cigarette. The three of us
smile, say nothing.

(first publication)

Recently Linked: My thanks to Gabriel Leverance for signing on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. You can visit his blog, The Joy of Books, here.

“Autumn Fires” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: Superstitions of Apartment Life by Pedro Ponce.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Little Guide to Life’s Secrets

For the fun of it, here are the books I brought home from Goodwill the other day:

Irish Myths and Legends
by Lady Gregory
Running Press
Philadelphia (1998)

Hardcover, 446 pages, $2.99

Death of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller
Penguin Books
New York

First Penguin edition 1976;
date for this printing not given

139 pages, $.99

Chinese Fairy Tales
Illustrated by Jeanyee Wong
Peter Pauper Press
New York (1961)

Hardcover, 61 pages, $.99

A Little Treasury of American Poetry
Edited by Oscar Williams
Charles Scribner’s Sons
New York (1952)

Hardcover, 860 pages, $2.99

Everyman’s Library
Pocket Poets
Alfred A. Knopf
New York (1994), eighth printing

Hardcover, 252 pages, $.99

by Kurt Vonnegut
New York (1991)

Paper, 215 pages, $.99

Palm Reading: A Little Guide to Life’s Secrets
by Dennis Fairchild
Illustrated by Julie Paschkis
Running Press
Philadelphia (1995)

“A Running Press Miniature Edition”

Hardcover, 144 pages, $.99

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Self-Portrait in White

A man and his donkey; a snowy field; a cart full of bones. The wind.

(first publication)

“Self-Portrait in White” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: reading with tweezers.

Monday, November 9, 2009


On my way home. On foot. On the wrong road. A sudden steep climb. Hands and knees. The road ends at the mouth of a cave. Inside the cave, a colorful framed painting on the wall. A button to press — an old brown coat button. The painting slides up. Behind it, a young man leaning over a narrow table. Test tubes. Board games. Dice. He looks up, says, “I will call him.” He goes. Returns, followed by another young man. Both are grinning. I think, “Oh, no, they want to sell me something.” Quickly, I press the button. The painting slides back into place just as they start their song and dance. Literally.

My thanks to Lynn Behrendt for including this dream in the Annandale Dream Gazette.

In the Forum: stovepipe hats and the Community of Others.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Henry was my great-grandmother Eliza’s husband. I know even less about him than I do about her. Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood — I remember my mother saying the fall from his horse that killed him was no accident.

[click to enlarge]

“Henry” added to Penny Thoughts and Photographs.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Oblivion, Tyrants, Crumbs

Oblivion, Tyrants, Crumbs
by John Levy
First Intensity Press
Lawrence, Kansas
Paper. 194 pages. $16.00
ISBN: 1-889960-16-0

I wish I’d thought of that title. But of course I have my life, and the man who penned it, the poet John Levy, has his. And from his book’s opening pages, as I nodded in silent approval of poem after poem, I found myself caught up in that warm feeling of newly discovered friendship that defies distance and the ordinary boundaries of the printed page.

John doesn’t write complicated poems; the language he uses is simple, but it’s simple in the way the calm surface of a pond is simple, complexity shimmering and beckoning just beneath:

      (After Basho)

      My poems aren’t
      really mine. Any more

      than a frog
      owns its croak

      or its splash as it dives
      beneath the green surface.

      You see the surface translated
      into language

      ripples. (The frog, invisible,

Indeed, poet that he is, he loves words too much to take them merely at face value. Other, more playful, poems also show the deep impression words make on him:


      Imagine voting every four years not only
      to elect a President but also

      to add a few more words to what, and how, we
      think. Who’d campaign for them? I’d wear those

      campaign buttons, bringing to mind the
      title of Gertrude Stein’s book, Tender Buttons. Oh, to

      treat words tenderly, try not
      to forget how much they bestow

      their largesse and
      largeness, and their lovely lovely part

      in governing
      our thoughts.

Levy lives and works as a public defender in Tucson, Arizona. This part of his life is a rich source of poems and a springboard for self-examination, as is time spent with his children and parents, who play a delightfully instructive role in the book. His shortest poems move me most — poems you’d think might have been tossed off in passing, but which belie years of observation destined for glory in a single moment:

      almond blossoms
      in grey dusk appear
      as if their tree weren’t there


      unless asked to
      who would look
      under a butterfly in
      for a butterfly shadow


      If There

      If there were a poem
      made of only one letter

      let it be the V
      growing behind this white swan

      in the blue black water

Cover painting: Leslie Buchanan
Book design: Lee Chapman

(click to enlarge)

Note: This is one of two books I received from John, who kindly sent them my way after receiving a copy of my book, The Painting of You, from our mutual friend, the gifted poet Vassilis Zambaras. I was delighted to learn that John and Vassilis go way back, and that the two spent time together in Greece. This experience and more is the subject of John’s other book, We Don’t Kill Snakes Where We Come From: Two Years in a Greek Village (Querencia Books, 1994), which I hope to start reading soon.

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

As the Conversation continues, we finish one page and start another.

Friday, November 6, 2009


What better way to explain it, than this hailstone here in my palm?

(first publication)

“Life” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Published earlier today: The Fall and Rise of the Autumn Empire.

The Fall and Rise of the Autumn Empire

For my grandson, Isaac

One year, when this fig tree
was small, your great-grandmother
picked the yellow leaves
before they could

(first publication)

“The Fall and Rise of the Autumn Empire” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: let not your trumpets be troubled.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Full moon

the blinds,
these lines

on my
wife’s face

will be


(first publication)

“Jealousy” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: a violent friend, a brimstone enemy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sky’s the Limit, Part 2

On my way home from an errand downtown, I was absorbing the fall colors when I was suddenly struck through by the desire to see the portion of California’s Sierra Nevada foothills that lay just east of where I was born. I’ve taken many a slow drive through those hills, in every season, borne along by silence, thought, and emotion that seemed part of the rocks and dry grass themselves, under skies brooding, empty, and troubled, and at times defined by a single column of smoke or a hawk soaring with outstretched wings. Feeling as I do — as I still do twenty-two years after leaving the San Joaquin Valley and coming to Oregon — it’s little wonder that, on the rare occasions I’m asked about my influences, I begin with the place of my birth and the area around it, rather than any given writer, friend, or relative. And yet I do feel at home here, at least most of the time — and foolish, and rich, and defiant, and happy, and proud, and lonely perhaps most of all. I feel at home wherever I am, especially alone in a crowd, and I dig my graves as I go.

In the Forum: The Silverado Squatters and an old photo of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

California Classics

California Classics
The Creative Literature of the Golden State
by Lawrence Clark Powell
The Ward Ritchie Press
Los Angeles (1971)

[click to enlarge]

Works and authors discussed:
Anza’s California Expeditions, by Herbert E. Bolton; The Journey of the Flame, by Walter Nordhoff; Death Valley in ’49, by William L. Manly; The Land of Little Rain, by Mary Austin; The Wonders of the Colorado Desert, by George Wharton James; The Shirley Letters, by Louisa Smith Clapp; The Luck of Roaring Camp, by Bret Harte; Roughing It, by Mark Twain; The Splendid Idle Forties, by Gertrude Atherton; Up and Down California in 1860-64, by William H. Brewer; Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, by Clarence King; The Mountains of California, by John Muir; Two Years Before the Mast, by Richard Henry Dana, Jr.; The Silverado Squatters, by Robert Louis Stevenson; McTeague, by Frank Norris; Martin Eden, by Jack London; California Coast Trails, by J. Smeaton Chase; Give Your Heart to the Hawks, by Robinson Jeffers; To a God Unknown, by John Steinbeck; California and the West, by Charis and Edward Weston; The Vineyard, by Idwal Jones; The Cattle on a Thousand Hills, by Robert Glass Cleland; Ramona, by Helen Hunt Jackson; Reminiscences of a Ranger, by Horace Bell; Land of Sunshine, by Charles F. Lummis; Boy on Horseback, by Lincoln Steffens; Oil!, by Upton Sinclair; Merton of the Movies, by Harry Leon Wilson; The Day of the Locust, by Nathanael West; After Many a Summer, by Aldous Huxley; Farewell, My Lovely, by Raymond Chandler.

Recently Linked: My thanks to Aleksandra for sharing “November Sky,” from my book Winter Poems, in this photo entry of her blog, New Times Arrived. What a wonderful surprise!

I would also like to extend a warm welcome to Rocío Márquez, who signed on this morning as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. Rocío’s blog is La Tormenta De Strindberg.

In the Forum: California Classics.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Spitter’s Light

Spitter’s Light. Also known as Daylight Savings Time.

Buried deep in One Hand Clapping, there are references to a man who lived across the street from us only, it seemed, to spit. He spat in the morning when he came out for his paper. He spat a short while later before he left for work. He spat as soon as he returned home. He spat when he picked up his mail, and he spat each and every other time he stepped outside, until night fell, when, presumably, he spat on his kitchen floor and living room rug.

This “neighbor” didn’t spit because he was ill. He did so out of blind habit, and as a way to mark his territory. He even spat in his driveway and on his front lawn, where he and his wife walked and their little boy played.

Since I worked in a room that faced the street, often with the window open, I had to endure this ignorant soundtrack for years, until the spitter finally moved away. It was during that bleak period that I coined the term “Spitter’s Light,” because, for me, Daylight Savings Time meant having to endure an extra hour of spitting every evening. The term is still in use today.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Therefore I Am

Therefore I Am
October 30, 2009

[click to enlarge]

Recently Linked: My thanks to Stephen Baird for signing on as a follower of Recently Banned Literature. Stephen gets around, and has the pictures to prove it. Thanks also to Lola Koundakjian for posting my common speech definition as the Armenian Poetry Project quote of the month.

“Therefore I Am” is the newest, and certainly the shortest, entry in my Notebook. This drawing accompanies it. Past entries are archived here.

In the Forum: which way to the gumball machine?