The Boy Who Wrote Letters

One of the biggest mistakes parents can make is to underestimate their children. Children know. They lead secret lives, in which they busily recreate the world. While parents should be available to offer their children guidance, they should also be willing and able to take direction from their children. The degree to which they succeed will be revealed by how well they and their children get along, and the amount of respect each has for the other.

The Boy Who Wrote Letters

The boy who wrote letters
seldom wrote to people.
He wrote instead to his dog,
and to the birds and trees.
He wrote to the old barns
he saw when he went for rides
with his father,
and to retired boxcars
half-buried in mounds
of dewy chickweed,
or overgrown
with wild blackberry vines.

The letters were short,
because they had to fit on
tiny scraps of paper,
corners of discarded envelopes,
and the blank sides of
his mother�s grocery lists.
The pencils he used
were hand-me-down stubs
bequeathed him by his father,
who wore the pencils out
copying rows of numbers
into homemade ledgers.

As soon as they were written,
he�d put the letters in a shoe box.
During the summer he was nine,
he wrote so many letters that
he kept the box with him
from breakfast until bedtime.
Through the kitchen window,
his mother could see him
on the front porch or in the yard,
always writing,
his pencil devoured by
a white, eager fist.

At night, after his bath,
he�d hold his box of letters
while his mother sat on
the edge of his bed and talked.
After she turned out the light,
he�d put the box on the night stand,
then drift off to sleep.
His expression was so satisfied,
his breathing so unencumbered,
that his mother often stayed in
the room for an hour or more,
just to listen, watch, and dream.

By the time school began that fall,
the shoe box was full.
The tired lid,
like an old man�s hat,
had creases and a bulge.
Without warning,
it would pop off at the corners,
allowing some of the letters to escape
and flutter to the ground.
Surprised, but never annoyed,
the boy would pick them up,
read them, and tuck them away.

He didn�t write letters
while he was at school,
but he thought them,
and carried them home
in his head every afternoon.
His mother gave him
another shoe box,
and helped him tie a string
around the one that was full.
His father gave him another pencil.
And so the boy who wrote letters
wrote letters.

A few weeks later,
his father died.
As best she could, his mother
tried to explain their loss.
She said something about
his father�s heart,
but he didn�t understand.
Then she said how much
his father had loved them,
and how he�d always meant
to give them the things
they�d wanted but couldn�t have.

The boy who wrote letters
wrote letters.
Then, one day, he stopped.
It was a long time
before his mother noticed.
When she finally did,
she asked her son why
he didn�t write anymore.
The boy started to cry.
He didn�t know how to tell her
it was because his last stubby pencil
was gone.

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

Main Page
Author�s Note
A Listening Thing
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No Time to Cut My Hair
One Hand Clapping
Songs and Letters
Collected Poems
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Armenian Translations
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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?
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
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)
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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