An Individual History: Poems by Michael Collier

By Michael Collier

An person History describes the fears, anger, and guilt—personal, familial, societal, political, and historical—that include a existence. The determine of the speaker’s maternal grandmother who was once institutionalized for 5 many years serves as an overriding metaphor for this haunting, daring new paintings via a vital American poet.

from “An person History

This was once prior to the time of lithium and Zoloft

before temper stabilizers and anxiolytics

and just about all the psychotropic medicinal drugs, yet now not before

    thorazine,

which the suicide O’Laughlin referred to as “handcuffs for the

   mind.”

It was once prior to, in the course of, and after the time of atomic

   fallout,

Auschwitz, the Nakba, DDT, and also you may take water

    cures,

find solace in quarantines, perform shunnings,

or stand at Lourdes one of the canes and crutches.

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Sample text

We're close but not touching. After we turn the lights out, I can hear her breathing.  Silence wedges its way in between sleep and morning's foggy sky.  I talk to a friend who moved to Portland. After I hang up the phone, a space in the air.  I turn off the table saw. Then I put chisels into their slots, hang up the hammers, sweep and pour sawdust into a bag, and turn off the lights. After closing the shop door, I pause.  Vaissade Road, on the Arcata Bottoms. The moon disappears above the fog. The slight hiss of a car on Samoa Road, to the south.

Two in the morning. I'm reading in the kitchen. The refrigerator fan turns off.  The door slams: our children leave for school. I put my hearing aid on. Chickadees and kinglets in the pine tree.  My wife and I lie in bed arguing. Long pauses. We're close but not touching. After we turn the lights out, I can hear her breathing.  Silence wedges its way in between sleep and morning's foggy sky.  I talk to a friend who moved to Portland. After I hang up the phone, a space in the air.  I turn off the table saw.

How can I not love this woman that I love? As a friend?  My father sits across from me. He says nothing while he tries to write a certain Chinese word he has forgotten.  Two in the morning. I'm reading in the kitchen. The refrigerator fan turns off.  The door slams: our children leave for school. I put my hearing aid on. Chickadees and kinglets in the pine tree.  My wife and I lie in bed arguing. Long pauses. We're close but not touching. After we turn the lights out, I can hear her breathing.  Silence wedges its way in between sleep and morning's foggy sky.

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