Danny Collier: Poems


We work on the eggs of our arms.
What you call pre-teen ritual,

like huffing or autoerotic
asphyxiation. On the subject

of which, Rederick dangles from his belt
while his brother laughs, as Steve bleeds into

his sheets, the boy taking a few rubles and
a cassette while Tyrone taunts the men who beat

him silent in his own house, not far from
his wife and his children, and when we bother

to tell the stories, they go egg-shaped.
They fill our sleeves as we prefer, and

define us in a hormonal,
biologically determined

accumulation of meat.
It’s a hilarious joke

until you have to live.





A sharp mind brings life to a sharp
blade. Bite your tongue and focus on
the back of the throat. Practice one-

quarter twists. Focus on the groove
on the roof. Like stabbing cardboard.
Don’t worry about blood. Focus on

the hole beneath the eyes. Focus
past your predator hands. Focus
on the damned dead plastic throat.

Bring it back to life. Make it squawk.




Father Son Breakfast

I thank high school physics
for Brownian motion

and for clarity when
I think about coffee.

There’s this conversation we have
at a McDonald’s in Memphis.

Not a real McDonald’s just
a McDonald’s of the mind.

Not a real Memphis just
a Memphis of the mind.

We go there to drink hot coffee.
We go to eat Egg McMuffins.

Sometimes I think I understand
you. The lit candle in your throat.

I should have studied the laws that
govern gases under pressure.

One theory says your head
mimes a bushel basket.

Now you know why I
always hum that tune.

You will never earn a living.
You never ask the right question.

We would talk like that, ping
pong, if we were talking.

But you are talking. You talk on.
You spit a bit of egg. That’s life.

That’s potential life, if the contraction
is past-tense. Grammar’s tricky. Present tense.

You should have been a lawyer, dad.
You wanted to be a lawyer.

Except by analogy,
I know nothing in this life.

Global warming, don’t snort, involves
complex contents under pressure.

Real pressure. An Egg McMuffin
heavier than all of Memphis,

hotter than Memphis,
actual Memphis.




From Livorno

The hick from Livorno utters aphorisms for ums.
Troubled by the dog, he takes up a stick to beat his palm.

The hick from Livorno cures boredom with violence.
Ever scheming, he wishes to winter with the widow.

The hick from Livorno inspires an albino.
The hick from Livorno keeps a spare skin.
He is neither drunk nor useful.
He is too large to serve as your prey.

The hick from Livorno sings the disgraced traditional song.
Subject to abuse by the egg-head, he bids his plans farewell.

Who first is the pest then the one who is pestered?
Who comes to us later, after the war?
Who knows with precision the length of bad road?
Who survives by combining the shiftless and pale?

The hick from Livorno packs homes with explosives.
Peckish, he feels you should not want the worm.

He claims no intention of axing our heads in.
Whatever we talk of we’re talking of him.