All Souls

By Michael Collier b. 1953 Michael Collier
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, “All Souls” from The Ledge. Copyright © 2000 by Michael Collier. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: The Ledge (2000)

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Poet Michael Collier b. 1953

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Social Commentaries, Popular Culture, Horror, Mythology & Folklore

Holidays Halloween

 Michael  Collier

Biography

Michael Collier was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1953. He studied with William Meredith as an undergraduate at Connecticut College, and earned his MFA at the University of Arizona. Poet laureate of Maryland from 2001-2004, Collier is also the director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Maryland. His books of poetry include The Clasp and Other Poems (1986), The . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Popular Culture, Horror, Mythology & Folklore

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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