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, 1996-1998)
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 Sunlight on My Mother’s Face
From Songs and Letters and The Painting of You
These soft, newborn leaves remember the sunlight that warmed
my mother’s face, they bear the scent of soap and sweat and meals
rising from her skin, they recall the rough broom in her hand,
the mirror she wiped clean to reveal her sweet astonished childhood,
her father splitting wood with his patient care-worn axe,
her mother’s tired back, her wood stove, pies, and peaches,
the sparrows in the trees outside, barking dogs, tramps at the door,
hard green plums in spring, honey-white alyssum crowding the walk,
flour on the floor, fragrance, sound, voice, bone, spirit,
a soot-filled rail car bringing letters home, a lullaby for children
sleeping in their graves, a song for wise old men who have forgotten
their best friends’ names.
Who remembers everything? One clear moment is enough,
distilled by warm hands and taken from a cup, cradled by the tongue,
whispered, swallowed, praised, sung, nourishing the blood,
calling from the marrow, an orange-scented breeze, the hum of bees,
nerves, fingertips, muscles, toes, a solemn recitation of what no one knows.
One clear moment is enough, for the petal of the rose pressed soft against
a young girl’s lips, for the story composed by the drama of her senses,
of a brave ship lost while still in sight of home, her mad crew guided
by unknown constellations.
Now she is eighty-three, and the sunlight on her face remembers me.
It remembers the boy I have been and will never be again, caresses the lines
and fences with eyes blind to my disgrace, inscribes a message on the wind,
seeks, blesses, grieves, attends, ceaseless in its toil, eager to begin,
the sunlight on my mother’s face remembers me.
March 21, 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