James Joyce Singing

By and large, my poems have always been easy to understand. A polite handful require a bit of extra effort, but, in my opinion, at least, the effort is pleasant and has its rewards. Someday, perhaps, I will write something truly difficult like James Joyce�s Ulysses or Finnegans Wake. Indeed, I might even invent a whole new language. But for now I�m content to write poems about James Joyce. Actually, I have only one in that category. It�s called �James Joyce Singing.� It was written April 5, 2005, and is the thirteenth entry in my current work-in-progress, Songs and Letters. For those who might have missed it, I�m pleased to present it here. If you�ve read it before, who knows? � maybe it will make more sense this time around.

James Joyce Singing

Like his wife, I can only understand him when he sings.
But when he speaks, that is when I understand myself.
�Nora,� I said, �you must be more forgiving of your old man.
He has imagined his death ten thousand times,
But dying now is no easier than it was in the beginning.
If you don�t believe me, try it yourself.�

She took me literally � quite decidedly so.
I tendered an apology while her husband sang on.
This city is so dark, so dirty, boats line the shore
Waiting for coffins full of piano keys. If the singing stops,
So will everything else, except for killing and commerce,
Which go about spitting like cheerful, illiterate cousins.

Another glass was offered. I accepted as I always do,
Paid gladly with a curse, toasted the hole in my pocket,
Whispered a prayer for my mother, buried the memory
Of my father, sailed across the ocean to America,
And found my brother at the graveside of his taken bride �
Spent she was, had coughed up the bloody lung.

Sunny Jim sang on. �I belong here,� he said, �not one bit
More than you.� And do you know, it were every word
As true as if we had both been left for dead. Two children
There be, one a small-year-old, a son, and a little daughter
Still finding her way down from the misty mountain.
That�s how my brother explained his grief.

�Of sorrow I�ve had my fill,� said he, and I helped him
Up to his knees. His poor coat was all with mud,
His shirt pocket lacked tobacco. I gave his boy a lump
Of bread and a swallow from my glass. Said,
�Sit beside me, lad, �til your father�s said good-bye.�
When he heard Jim singing, he looked him in the eye.

Then Nora came around. �He is not himself this evening.
Lord, I�m afraid he�ll write another book� � spoken as if he
The man were got with child, and she the woman were defiled.
�Go down to the grave,� sang Sunny Jim, �go ye down,�
As dear sweet Nora sadly wrung her hands.
But the lad, oh, the motherless lad, he was smiling.

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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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
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
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)
Caf� 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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