Papa’s Song (clam chowder blues)

I wrote this poem back in September of 1999, while looking at a calendar print of Marc Chagall’s “The Glowing Bouquet.” But looking at the painting today, it seems odd that I would have written the poem in what might be termed a blues style. Was it because of the blue in the painting? Possibly. I have always liked Chagall’s use of that color. The chair and window in the poem make sense, because there is also a small chair in the painting, and a window with square panes, which are bigger than the chair, even though the chair is nearer the foreground. And there are flowers in both the poem and the painting, and a woman. But my woman is nothing like Chagall’s naked one lolling about near the top of the bouquet, partially covered by flowers.

Papa’s Song
(clam chowder blues)

My toenail’s stuck
in the floorboard,
dry shell full of slivers.
My heel’s black, ’cause
no one sweeps up ’round here.

My blue chair’s parked
front of my two-paned window,
wash my face in the dawn.
Doilies my mama made, smell like
bacon gravy and wash day, 1929.

My wife’s out sellin’ flowers,
her gray hair hangin’ down.
She takes ’em from the graveyard,
plants her bucket ’neath the stop light
in the middle of the town.

Says she don’t mind, huh! never gives
a holler. Says the weather’s fine,
even when folks won’t give her money.
Says a lot of things that could be true,
though we both know better.

These days, dreams I get at
with a can opener, pour the guts out
in a black-face fryin’ pan.
Can of soup, warmin’ on the stove,
lord! I wish it was clam chowder.

Can of soup, warmin’ on the stove,
lord! I wish it was clam chowder.

Note: Poems, Slightly Used, a growing collection of work first published in my blog, Recently Banned Literature, can be found here.

Available from Cosmopsis Books of San Francisco

Winter Poems
by William Michaelian

Winter Poems (click to view cover)

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
US $11.95; $8.95 at Cosmopsis Books
52 pages. 6x9. Paper.
Includes one drawing.
San Francisco, June 2007
Signed, numbered & illustrated copies

Winter Poems displays the skills and abilities of Mr. Michaelian at their most elemental level, at the bone. Wandering amidst a barren world, a world scraped bare, he plucks the full moon like fruit from the winter sky, goes mad and befriends a pack of hungry wolves, burns his poems to keep warm. He is a flake of snow, a frozen old man, a spider spinning winter webs. Spring is only a vague notion of a waiting vineyard, crocuses, and ten-thousand babies. The author is alone, musing, reflecting, at times participating. But not quite alone, for he brings the lucky reader along. I’ve been there, to this winter world, and I plan to go back.

                                                            — John Berbrich, Barbaric Yawp

Another Song I Know — Short Poems
by William Michaelian

Another Song I Know (click to view cover)

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
US $13.95; $10.95 at Cosmopsis Books
80 pages. 6x9. Paper.
Includes Author’s Note.
San Francisco, June 2007
Signed, numbered & illustrated copies

Another Song I Know is a delightful collection of brief, resilient poems. Reading them, one by one by one, is like taking a walk through our common everyday world and suddenly hearing what the poet hears: the leaves, a coffee cup, chairs — and yes, even people, singing their songs of wisdom, sweetness, and light.

                                                            — Tom Koontz, Barnwood poetry magazine

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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Recently Banned Literature

Collected Poems by William Michaelian
A Larger Life
Monastery of Psalms
Friends (includes French translation)
Summer of Dreams
Is It His Coat?
The Boy Who Wrote Letters
Forty Days, Forty Nights
The Pilgrim’s Way
A Christmas Wish
The Teacher
The Literary Awakening of America
The Healer
The Enigmatic Child
What Happened to God
Reading Tristram Shandy
A Prefix of Obscure Meaning
He Knows
My Only Friend
The World I Know
We Do Not Need a Poem
Three Short Poems
The More We Are Looking For
I Hear the Earth
What Will I Give You?
Great Minds Think Alike
The Age of Us All
I Met My Spirit
Claim Denied
Summer Days
Greek Peppers
Another Hard Day
James Joyce Singing
How Many Stones?
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The Peace Talks
The Eggs of March
Armenian Music
If Poems Were Days
Once Again I Lied
One Last Thing
Everywhere I Go
Up Here On the Hill
Winter View
What December Said to January
Winter Poems
Spring Haiku
How to Write a Poem, In Three Lessons
The Walls Have Ears
Why I Don’t Buy Grapes
To French Vanilla and All the Other Flavors
It Was
Early Morning Haiku
Someone’s Mother
Fall Questions
My Old Black Sport Coat
The Clerk and the Windmill
Roadside Distress, Part 2
Magical Realism (First Prize)
Café Poetry Night: Two Poems
Short Poem for Spring
Short Poem for Summer
I Find Him Eating Butterflies
For the Sister I Never Had
An Absurdist Play
The Second Act

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