I don’t know what to say about Michael Collier‘s poetry. but I do know that if this particular poem belongs on our blog, today is the day.
Sinister, surreal, postmodern and . . . conceptually funny. . . love it or hate it, that’s up to you!
Collier is the director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Maryland. He is also the poetry editorial consultant for Houghton Mifflin (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
In his own words, “I think poetry does have this ability to help us deal with things that aren’t black and white and make our thinking more subtle.”
A few of us—Hillary Clinton, Vlad Dracula,
Oprah Winfrey, and Trotsky—peer through
the kitchen window at a raccoon perched
outside on a picnic table where it picks
over chips, veggies, olives, and a chunk of pâte.
Behind us others crowd the hallway, many more
dance in the living room. Trotsky fusses with the bloody
screwdriver puttied to her forehead.
Hillary Clinton, whose voice is the rumble
of a bowling ball, whose hands are hairy
to the third knuckle, lifts his rubber chin to announce,
“What a perfect mask it has!” While the Count
whistling through his plastic fangs says, “Oh,
and a nose like a chef.” Then one by one
the other masks join in: “Tail of a gambler,”
“a swashbuckler’s hips,” “feet of a cat burglar.”
Trotsky scratches herself beneath her skirt
and Hillary, whose lederhosen are so tight they form a codpiece,
wraps his legs around Trotsky’s leg and humps like a dog.
Dracula and Oprah, the married hosts, hold hands
and then let go. Meanwhile the raccoon squats on
the gherkins, extracts pimentos from olives, and sniffs
abandoned cups of beer. A ghoul in the living room
turns the music up and the house becomes a drum.
The windows buzz. “Who do you love? Who do you love?”
the singer sings. Our feathered arms, our stockinged legs.
The intricate paws, the filleting tongue.
We love what we are; we love what we’ve become.
— Michael Collier
Michael Collier, “All Souls” from The Ledge. Copyright © 2000 by Michael Collier.
Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.