The Enigmatic Child

Yet another unplanned, unexpected work, “The Enigmatic Child” was written in three sittings over the space of several hours on a single day. It will take much longer, though, to figure out what the poem means, or might possibly mean to those afflicted with intelligence or a disciplined mind.

The Enigmatic Child


The enigmatic child born, winking, full of light
is a father in miniature, a mother in kind
an eruption of stars upon the trodden path
a jubilant expression of problematic survival
a volatile grain of earth stranded in fissured rock
a messenger of mad brotherhood and sisterhood
graceful, unbending, moving, knowing, ignorant, wise
blind as a soft petal, fragrantly veiled by seductive health
murdered of its numb surreal past and its revolution in the womb
delivered from its ancient mariner’s language and volcanic warmth
into the abysmal stupidity of accumulated knowledge
the stolid certainty of dammed rivers and subdued continents
where great herds of blind creatures in contentment graze
goes forth the teacher, the singer, the carpenter, or poet
returns the thief, liar, or crucified genius of his time
stunned by the miracle of himself, drunk beneath the bow
lustful, insistent, preoccupied, arrogant, hungry, gentle, kind
a seer of noble passions ruled by inherited values
one shoulder against time, the other an angry mate’s rebuff
of the mutual plundering of surrendered, forbidden senses
oceanic, earthbound, airborne, solemn, mercilessly alone
five fingers upon each hand, five toes upon the foot
wandering to and fro and back again, weary, errant, despised
object of jealous riddance hoarded and preserved
roasted over flame, relieved of bone, a remnant of distraction
proclaimed in satisfied accomplishment for the record
we the people, being of sound mind and body
do hereby bequeath this momentarily appropriated heaven
in styled increments according to your predetermined worth
all rise before you descend, crushed by the ungrateful weight
of our divine, resplendent, unfathomable love
we give you this day your daily bread
and bid you joyous welcome.


It is not I, or you, the child replied in warning
nor when, or who, but the very firmament that brings me here
a troubled mourner banished from another realm
nor any worm dreaming sanely in the warmly crusted earth
you so foolishly ignore, but an answer to my mother’s breast
revealed while she is here, to my father’s paralyzing dream-desire
while he is here, to their misunderstood quest while they are here
nor any drifting thought-cloud of omniscient passion or displeasure
trimmed wick of reason, dry river bed, tamed forest, or shrill night-call
that passes over nameless graves polluted by the riven and the shorn
silent in translation, devoid of meaning, speechless in unbecoming dumb
nor vaguely documented unproof repeated and passed down
or well traveled road withered by a pilgrim’s stern, demented gaze
but a sweet expression of holy madness, the logic of undeniable life
the sorrow and torture of regret, the unawaited, unexpected, unimagined
recurrence of that which is good, and which springs eternal
not I, or you, yet as powerfully victorious, pathetic, and inevitable
nor when, or who, but anxious with helplessness and remorse
an open door, a tavern heaving with revelers at dawn, a ship on the horizon
suspended between meadowed home and dismal yon
brave Odysseus counting sighs, rubbing balm on blistered hands
repenting darkness to laugh again and shed his bitter tears
to try again though it be certain folly, to believe again in the simplest
reasons and notions, to speak his name again as if it held meaning
as if the mountains were young again and the gods had descended
as if the arrow through his bleeding heart had only now arrived
as if the breeze that had borne him here had not forever died
these and a thousand other gloried forgottens and unknowns
that sleep behind his roaring eyes, his ears cupped to ocean’s sound,
the shell of his battered heart a lipless, unbellowed horn
while all else in exalted dim sobriety waits, gathers in a mist of minds
binding self to raging self like a chain of undiscovered islands
where I wait and forever bide my time.

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
The Enigmatic Child
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

Main Page
Author’s Note
A Listening Thing
Among the Living
No Time to Cut My Hair
One Hand Clapping
Songs and Letters
Collected Poems
Early Short Stories
Armenian Translations
Cosmopsis Print Editions
News and Reviews
Highly Recommended
Let’s Eat
Favorite Books & Authors
Useless Information
Flippantly Answered Questions
E-mail & Parting Thoughts

Poetry, Notes & Marginalia:
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
Papa’s Song (clam chowder blues)
The Pilgrim’s Way
A Christmas Wish
The Teacher
The Literary Awakening of America
The Healer
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?
At the Armenian Home
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

Of Poets and Other Things

Top of Page