Saturday, January 3, 2009

Goodbye to 2008

[Photo by Awyn, taken in my back yard, January 5, 2005].

Goodbye, 2008.
Hello, 2009.

As I was traveling and out of the country during the holidays, I didn’t post anything. It was only after Christmas that I stumbled upon this Christmas poem and contacted the author to get permission to post it on my blog. (Scroll down about 6 paragraphs to view.)

William Michaelian's website contains a link (in the Collected Poems section) to one of his poems translated by Louise Kiffer-Sarian, whose blog lists about a dozen or so Armenian contes translated into French. It reminds me that I missed the Festival de Contes here in Trois-Rivieres last Fall. There is something so wonderful about a people's "stories", those short, traditional, well-loved recountings of who they are and what they think and feel and love and fear and laugh about.

Louise's blog also provided links to a site displaying the Armenian alphabet. Now what does that have to do with Christmas? (which has now passed, by the way). Well, simply that congenital curiosity causes one to stumble upon some very interesting things—-things that resonate, that fill in gaps in one's knowledge, that lead you to explore other worlds, that remind you of how much there still is to learn.

One snowy afternoon last week while down in Boston we drove past the Armenian Library and Museum in Watertown, which holds the largest and most diverse collection of Armenian cultural artifacts outside Armenia (they house over 20,000 artifacts, 5,000 coins, 3,000 textiles, and more than 27,000 books). I lived in Boston for over 20 years and Watertown is but a short bus ride from Harvard Square, yet I have never visited this place. But I was always intrigued by the Armenian alphabet, in words above a local bakery shop.

And now thanks to links via William and Louise, I found Omniglot. Now I can say "I don’t understand" in about 40 languages! (Greek; Russian; Japanese and even Klingon!)

But I digress. Plot for a short story: A person stops to google a particular piece of information and ends up, thirteen hours later, still at the computer, stiff as a board and wild-eyed, having traversed a multitude of links, resulting in copious note taking-- filling marginless pads of paper, the back of a calendar, the inside of a teabag wrapper--with endless bits of information, ideas, examples, that may or may not prove useful. It stays downloaded there, like a huge, unassembled repository, in the writer's brain, to draw upon, say, five years from now, as it emerges when you would least expect it: just that one word, that one compelling image, or connection will manifest, and prove of use … or bring unexpected remembrance and delight.

It’s not a conscious thing … nor even an obsession … it’s just the way some people are. And I don’t know how you get that way, but there it is.

Enough already! Here’s William Michaelian’s Christmas poem:

A Christmas Wish

What do I want for Christmas?
Nothing to buy, nothing to sell.
Family gatherings. Laughter. Music.
Multitudes of happy children, warm and fed.
An end to the current war, and to all wars.
Water in the well, food on the table.
Companionship for the lonely.
Solitude for those in search of calm.
Understanding for the prisoner.
Compassion for those who judge.
Strength for the belittled.
Comfort for the torn.

I want what everyone wants,
But believes can never happen.
Truth instead of lies.
Generosity instead of greed.
Knowledge instead of fear.
Modesty instead of arrogance.
An open heart, an open mind.
To follow Life where it leads,
With gratitude for hard times
And what they teach,
And, when good times come,
To pass them on for others to enjoy.

But if these things are too much to ask,
If I am silly or have somehow missed the point,
There is still one thing I would like to see.
A giant teddy bear for the wide-eyed world.

Here’s another (same poet)-- more apropos because it’s now January and not December:

What December Said to January

Let the record
show I did
not go willingly.

Nor am I impressed
by the ruse you
call “The First,”
which you use
to hide the fact
I passed this way.

I am offended,
not ended.

Do not forget,
I have frozen ponds
and cast blood-red berries
to the ground; I have
blotted out the sun.

You have crocuses,
I’ll grant you that;
but I have summoned them;
the rest you leave for
spring to solve.

My advice to you?

Take pride in what you do
and never follow suit;
your days are numbered;
be true to them.

Poems, Slightly Used, a growing collection of work first published in William Michaelian's blog, Recently Banned Literature, can be found here. (Reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.)

Note to self: I must remember to post more frequently to this blog because not doing so means having to catch up, rusulting in waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy too much material. No one wants to read that much in one sitting. (Not that anyone reads these postings anyway, but it’s a reminder to me to de-verbositify myself. )

New Year’s Resolution No. 4: Nix the verbosity.

ཧ་གོ་མ་སོང་ ["I don't understand" ... in Tibetan]

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