Saturday, January 23, 2010


Those times
when the dead
are near

when you see
their faces
in the wallpaper

when the branch
bends low

and the road
is a river

that knows
where it goes

when there is here
and far is as near

as your hand

who but you
who but you alone
who but you

to tell everyone else?

(first publication)

“Prophet” added to Poems, Slightly Used.


Conrad DiDiodato said...


I believe what lingers most after death, and causes the most pain, is that terrible "association of ideas" poignantly described here.

Even the eerie dialogue with them we oftentimes have.

vazambam said...

Who in deed but you.

Anthony Duce said...

I like it.

William Michaelian said...

Conrad, Vassilis, Anthony: thank you. It’s been a strange, quiet week, culminating this morning with my friend’s memorial service. It was held in a fairly small room, completely filled by family and close friends. There were about a hundred of us in all. Instead of a solid wall, the west end of the room was made entirely of glass. Just outside, there was a beautiful old oak, and beyond the oak, a bright blue, almost perfectly cloudless sky not at all typical for Salem this time of year. Well. sitting there, I didn’t feel like much of a prophet. I’m pretty sure that tree knows and understands more than I ever will.

ALeks said...

If you know that tree knows and understands, you might be a tree yourself,If you would allow me to say, a beautiful Black Mulberry (in Serbian Crni Dud)
tree,great to climb in them all the way to the top branches and eat of its sweet fruit,tell it your dreams and build the fort in it listening its lullaby till your aunt calls you in before the evening covers the fort and the tree with soft blanket of warm,deep summer air.
" who but you
who but you alone..."
Take care William,

William Michaelian said...

I would love to be a mulberry tree with a fort in it. Where I grew up, there were a lot of mulberry trees. And you probably know that besides being good to eat, the fruit makes excellent vodka. There are no mulberry trees where we live now, but every year my brother brings some vodka when he visits from Armenia. And that vodka was one of my friend’s favorite drinks.

Thanks for painting such a beautiful picture in this little comment box.

ALeks said...

Yes,I know mulberry trees verry well,where I come from we had them,black and white ones, as a part of inheritance from the past,lovely legends too and Im glad i have painted it as Im glad Im painting your portrait,the tree is now a part of the painting.I am a little visionary to choose that tree,how wonderful that mulberry vodka liked Tim too!

don't be emily said...

Somehow this reminds me of JRR Tolkien: "Home is behind, the world ahead, and there are many paths to tread, through shadows till the edge of night, until the stars are all alight..." If you've ever heard the orchestration on the LOTR version, you will never forget it. Only one verse from the longer poem in the books, but so poignant. I don't know why the association.

William Michaelian said...

One of those little mysteries, I guess. But I’m glad you said so.