As I was tapping out a few thoughts here about a month ago, it was snowing. Now it’s a hundred degrees out there, the weeds are running rampant, the air is one big cloud of pollen, and, for the time being, at least, the birds have limited their rioting to the early morning hours. And yet three days ago, the temperature was in the sixties.

These sudden changes in weather aren’t unusual for Western Oregon. For instance, sifting through my notes, I see I wrote a poem almost exactly two years ago, on May 15, 2006, on this very subject:


Spring to summer
in a day, no lemonade
will quench the way
I feel, a shy stone
suddenly revealed
when its forest
is cut down.

Roughly a year later, “Changes” became part of my collection of short poems, Another Song I Know.

May 15 is also the day an old grade-school friend and neighbor of mine was born. Edwin entered this world just five days before I did, and his mother and my mother met and shared a room at the local hospital. A few short years later, our moms took turns shuttling us back and forth to each other’s houses after school, so we could pursue our San Joaquin Valley farm-boy adventures — namely, digging holes, hiding, and throwing clods at each other.

Edwin’s house was about a mile from ours, at the northeast corner of Avenue 412 and Road 70. As it turned out, that was the very location I had in mind when I wrote “The Old Language,” the first story in No Time to Cut My Hair. Another reference to that country crossing turns up in “Not Dying,” a short piece in Songs and Letters about another friend, who was stricken with cancer and died at the age of eighteen in 1974.

And now that I think about it, country roads appear time again in my writing. This, also from Songs and Letters, written October 11, 2007:

The Old Road

The old road is wider now. A mile passes like a dream.
But the vineyards, barns, and trees still call out to me.

Restless, I find a place to turn —
a narrow side road preserved by neglect,
where nothing needs a name —

Except, perhaps, blind autumn,
blessed by sacred rain.

Which is followed by this, a couple of days later:

Autumn Orchard

The rain has never done this before.
Are the drops really supposed to sting?
Or have they, too, turned to tears?

Who is crying? Salt from whose eye?
Helpless breath from whose mouth?
Flowing to cleanse what wound?

This, in the brightest, yellowest time.
Yellow trees, resolute in long yellow rows.
Silent in their knowledge. Wise. Old.

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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