My secret life? is an ocean.
Shipwrecks, storms. Unexplained lights.
Hideous depths. Lost treasure. People waving
from wild, imagined shores. This friendly
albatross gazing at my neck.
William Michaelian launched his first website, I’m Telling You All I Know, in 2001. In ten years it grew to contain more than 1,200 pages that featured stories, poems, notes, drawings, reviews, books, a forum, recipes, a daily journal, and his entire novel, A Listening Thing. Here you will find archival excerpts on a changing basis.
Songs and Letters (poetry and prose, 716 pages, multiple entries, 2005-2009)
Early Short Stories (22 stories, 1996-1997)
No Time to Cut My Hair (70 stories, 2002)
One Hand Clapping (daily journal, 730 entries, 2003-2005)
Collected Poems (73 poems, 1 essay, 2002-2008)
Poems, Slightly Used (first publications, numerous entries, 2008-2011)
A Listening Thing (novel, written 2001, posted 2003)
The End of the Rainbow
From Songs and Letters
When I was in the fourth grade, our teacher gave us a short reading assignment about a porpoise. Since I had never heard of the animal or seen the word porpoise in print, I ignored the i and assumed the word was “purpose.” The purpose was friendly, and splashed in the water. It was a slippery purpose with rows of tiny sharp teeth. I thought these were odd ways to describe a purpose, but having a naturally poetic turn of mind, I was willing to go along with it. I was ten years old. There was no reason a purpose had to be set forth in strictly business-like terms. As far as I was concerned, a purpose could be a soft leather baseball glove, or the shiny spokes on a new bicycle.
After we finished reading, a discussion began. The porpoise this, the porpoise that. The teacher asked me a question. I had no idea what he was talking about. I said, “I thought it was purpose.” The girl next to me laughed. Neither of us knew that seven years later, she would be homecoming queen and I would be her escort, and that a short time after that, we would drift in other directions and never see each other again. In fact, it didn’t enter into it. I was crushed. Apparently a porpoise was a kind of fish, some sort of happy wet mammal known for being smart. And when people think an animal is smart, by gum, it must really be something. This was proven a few years later by a television show called “Flipper.” Flipper was a porpoise. Or was he a dolphin? Is there a difference? To this day, I still don’t know. Does one of them have a longer snout? Or is the word proboscis? My proboscis is a sunny green field. It is a home run hit by Willie Mays.
I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way....
My father and I were taking a ride in the hills in his 1965 Chevy pickup. We were making the gentle climb on Highway 180 into the little town of Dunlap when a rainbow appeared in the hills to the south. It was vivid and close. As soon as he could, my father turned on a side road, and we headed for the end of the rainbow. I had never been on the road before. It was wet from a recent shower, and steam was rising from the pavement. The rainbow loomed. It plunged into the earth behind a green hill covered with oaks. My father was as excited as I was. What would we find? Treasure? Leprechauns? A doorway to another world? We rounded the bend. The nearer we drove, the larger the rainbow became. We were immersed in color....
An eternity later, with pieces of the rainbow still warm in my adult pockets, I found myself in a hospital room, where I looked down upon my father as he lay sleeping, never to wake again. I whispered the rainbow’s bright colors into his ears, then took the wheel....
I’ve been driving ever since, forward, backward, all around. The old roads look the same, but the landmarks have been rearranged. I see a man along the way. I stop and let him in. Where are you going, friend? Where have you been? To the end of the rainbow, then back again. To the end of the rainbow, then back again....
June 18, 2005
From Cosmopsis Books
A Listening Thing (Novel)
Tenth Anniversary Authorized Print Edition
With new Preface & Afterword by the Author,
Extensive new Interview & Materials
from the Original Unpublished
& Online Editions
US $18.00 at Cosmopsis Books
232 pages. 6x9. Paper. (2011)
The first printing of this special edition is limited to 150 hand-numbered copies.
A Listening Thing is printed on archival, acid-free, FSC certified recycled natural paper, with a beautiful matte cover.
“William, I am eleven chapters into your amazing book and coming up for air to tell you how happy I am to be reading it and to know the man who wrote it and be able to tell him so! I keep thinking ‘did I write this?’ because so much of it reads like my own thoughts, so many left unexpressed, unshared, so many years for lack of courage and sympathy. Oh, you have both — by the barrel! I’d thank you more, but your book beckons...and while I’d like this read to last forever, I can’t resist a few more chapters, or more...”
— Gabriella Mirollo, via Recently Banned Literature
“I can’t recommend this book enough. So unflinchingly honest and human. I can’t think of a book in recent years that connected with me so. It speaks to all of us.”
— Brent Allard, via Facebook
“A deep journey into the heart/mind of loneliness and hope told in the clearest voice of true vision.”
— Jasmine B. Brennan, via Facebook
“The sheer interiority of it, lodged in an external and plausible world is captivating.”
— Elisabeth, via Recently Banned Literature
“A profound vision of the inner life ... Some of the most resonant accounts of dreams in recent literature ... Some of the funniest, most acerbic rants about American society and values in recent literature ... essentially a meditation on loneliness, it is profoundly American ... compellingly human: we never doubt that narrator is telling us the truth. In a society awash every day in public lies, it’s refreshing to realize that honest expression is still possible.”
— Joseph Hutchison, via The Perpetual Bird