Feature > Poetry
Michael Collier

Michael Collier

Michael Collier's sixth collection of poems, An Individual History was published in spring 2012 with W.W. Norton. He teaches in the creative writing program and the University of Maryland and is director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

>The Menagerie At Versailles: Haiku From Samuel Johnson's Diary

The rhinoceros,
skin folds like loose cloth doubled,
big as four oxen.

Camel or dromedary
both with two bunches,
others with one bunch.

Aviary very large,
the net, black thin wire,
airy and empty.

Cygnets, all tame but restless,
black feet on dark ground.
Halcyons or gulls?

Black stag of China, small.
Lions very tame,
tigers very tame

The rhinoceros,
yellow horn broken.
The brown bear put out his paws.

>To a Lemon

Hanging from the branches of a neighbor's tree,
you were a vestige of an orchard
where bees returned each spring
as if the orchard's rows of whitewashed trunks remained,
despite the grids and cul-de-sacs of streets.
A greenish, yellow, knobby, goiter,
wrinkled like a forehead, and nipple tipped,
waiting to be picked by me—
mouth on the rind, teeth in the pith,
tongue spritzed by the tart jet
of your tear-shaped cells;
zest on the lips and the wild, parrot-yellow
of your jacket, pinned with its dark-green stem—
thorn sharp, spit out with pulp and seeds.

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