Ravensong and other work

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It was already one of those nights.
When I feel like the almighty
is some hybrid homeosociopath.
Who treats myopia with blindness.
Sentences us to endless journeys deathward.
Then I got side swiped by a stroller
in the subway as I tried to high step away.
And this was no docile, civilian contraption.

Oh, no: The kind that the germ-phobic trophy wives drive.

Climate controlled. Hermetically sealed.
Safe and hostile as an Abrams tank.
For the tike on the inside anyway.
And she didn’t just lightly strike me, either.
She meant to smite me. Her own tiny lightning war.
And then she irately screeched, excuse me,
which, of course, in New York dialect

is a euphemism for you jackass,

get out of my way, or I’m pasting
your lifeless brains on the god damn train tracks.

And I couldn’t devise the right counter-attack.
What psycho fights moms with strollers, right?
Never mind the child likely had shell shock.
So I compromised, telling her well ok.
I mean, you did just ask so nicely.

And sliced up the stairs through the unkindness
of persons perched under the awning,
trying to wait out a rainstorm. Impatient,

I wade through them into the deluge,
and, consequently, I’m soon absolutely drenched
and questioning why I subjected myself
to the rain that has swooned through my jacket
and ruined my shoes and that I can imagine
is hazing its way through my backpack,
envisioning each letter on every page
into a pictogram yet untranslated,
and the babble of rain on the pavement
seems like nature’s way to make me deathlaugh
my antediluvian consternation
as her hands dance in the waves of rain
that gathers each individual figure,
places them back into one panorama
as othershuns cover their heads like candles,

scurry back to separate safety of doorways,

and parades of taxis yellowglaze
their way through the streetwaves, the old trees
still reaching centerward down through the concrete
even while greening high toward the blackwhites
and lightninggreys of the quicksilvering oceansky
as somewhere, amidst the kaleidoscopes
cast by the lights of cars and streetlamps,
within this landscape painted by its canvas,
a nescient worldling’s souleye opens
to witness itself in this picture,
in which he lives, and shahids it together;
the rainveil breathes itself into his vision.

He stops; the areyounuts of the umbrellatopped

streams around him like a creek rock,
neither washed on in the everflow
nor left to desiccate on the bank,
Sophia’s horizon soonbluing inside him,
the tempest rendering him within her image
a part of the world that he, for a moment,
knows in its bonekiss he also is.


As my drowsy apartment becomes outer darkness,
I move through the thick dew toward the train,
and fast as a sleight of hand the Guidethief
waves his snakestaff, mercurys breezes
that wake the evermores inside me
who lie beneath the worksmile and whatiflines
under my eyes, beyond maybesomeday,
past every eyeveil of my blooded suffering,
and the sound of my footsteps seems the meter
of this lyricworld I once again traverse
as my eyes hermeneutic the streetlights
that slice through the darkness and now seem to carve
a clear path forward, each one whispering
its riddle to me through the fog,

and I feel myself clothed – or swallowed? –

in that blanketish chamomile feeling that follows,
knowing the kindawful chthon of souls
that we daily strive to enlighten away
now surrounds me in calmtearful knowledge –
As if, in this deathsight, all that once was quick
reveals is hidden, forever image:
memory awakens into metaphor
as two worlds see that they are one,

startle one another awake with their presence,

and I don’t know why the guide of my soul
has always uncompromised me forward
since my first bodyhome in onceonly time,
where I shivered whatifs in the silence,
iceveined all the night might have been hiding.
The city that circled me a sleeping hell.
Where criminals wished to hubris into gods.
For pride was the homicide of meaning.
Strength the mad cackle that echoes despair.

The desire to burn one’s soul. to light the world –

The god of thieves gotawayed and fasthanded,
bound by no loyalty to Iamhes
who illusioned themselves in his image.
Like the first kid to break into our house.
Who then got shot and set on fire.
By the same guys who’d mugged my friend
and I in the park the year before.
A cop we knew told us – true story.

He chuckled. Like this made the universe moral.

And three wrongs make a right was the new two.
And we all laughed. As if the capricious
eventual could be confined
in gossip and newscasts and nightmares….

Which makes it seem as if this is a story

about what was stolen not what I learned

the night I was home alone down in the basement,
where I built cities filled with citizens
who arrowscorned and valorspeared as I wished,
the fear I disowned recreated in play
as my children rehearsed all the murder around me,
my silence the architect of a scream –
Heard something. Fear assumed burglar.
Grabbed the knife left resting on the plate
from dinner. Lurked next to the door.
Ready to ram it through this intruder’s throat.
Turned out the light. Let my eyes readjust.
To the darkness. The only certain –
Protect me tearblood furious ready.


Fear and lost anger had finally awakened
someone who was ready to fight for his life.
How kind is the god who has brought me
to this other death, this home of the souleye,
who sees past the killer who lives in my mind,
from whom I huddled in murderous terror,
into the image that now ends the story
each time the memory immortals inside me:
the knifebloodless grace of darkendless space
I saw when I first opened the door,
full of no one to praise or destroy me –

and then nothing beyond it but the tips

of the newstrange stairs leading upward.

23 Responses to Ravensong and other work

  1. Mary Lou Buschi says:

    Would love to attend a reading with this poet as guest reader. Just saying.

  2. Mary Lou Buschi says:

    Ok, let’s do it. Spring reading at In/Lit with this guy.

  3. Corey Page Spencer says:

    I agree with Mary Lou. I would love to see a reading with this guy.

  4. Felicia Graziano says:

    I would love to attend a reading with this poet as well.

  5. Karen Weintraub says:

    I would love to see it!

  6. Addison O'Dea says:

    Mr. Collins, you are a superb poet whose words and structure resonate. I particularly enjoyed Underworld, it stirs within me. If you are to do a reading in the future please notify me, as I woud be delighted to attend.

    Happy New Year, to you.

  7. Alfredo Jimeno Orrego says:

    I’d be grateful to be notified of your next reading as well!

  8. Diana says:

    Michael’s poetry is awesome! I would love to listen to him read.

  9. Laura Placencia says:

    I would love to see a reading with this poet too!

  10. Terri zungre says:

    Michael’s Ravensong was delightful, and made me laugh out loud. Underworld was great in a mesmerizing ,mysterious way. Would love to hear a reading as well.

  11. Hui Cui says:

    Above all

    Even I did not participate Michael’s reading class for this semester,I would love to hear a reading next time !

  12. Matilde says:

    Agree, a reading with Michael as a guest reader would be very fun! Great poem!

  13. Al Paz says:

    You know you have awaken my interest in literature and poetry. Would love to hear you read. I think Spring is a bit manageable for me. I look forward to it.

  14. Rhon Flatts says:

    I would love to hear Michael read some of his poetry. Looking forward to it!

  15. EWCinNYC says:

    Is it possible to bring the writer in to read his work? This would move the connection from page to reality – hearing the tone, rhythm and tempo would be quite a memorable experience!

  16. Eric says:

    Really enjoyed this – only I would love to hear it read by the poet in person!

  17. Susan says:

    I agree with Addison, Mr. Collins’ Underworld has a way of taking you to the depths of your subconscious; the world unveils itself in front of you there, and you end up coming back to consciousness fearless, with a burning fire to overcome darkness and climb up those “stairs.” I hung on to every word! Brilliant! Would love to hear a reading of Mr. Collins’ work.

  18. 9452G2881 says:

    Pray, let Micheal’s crystalline voice thunder through the incongruous halls!

  19. Jacquie Kerbel says:

    I am dying to attend a reading by this poet. Please make it happen. Thank you.

  20. PDK says:

    Brilliant! As I was sitting on Santa’s lap this year, all I asked for was to hear Michael Collins read his poetry. I was on the nice list. I sure hope Santa fulfills my wish.

  21. Joy Jurnack says:

    Michael is a gifted poet and deserves to have his voice speak his brilliant words. A reading would be a wonderful arena for this poet.

  22. Jasmine says:

    Would definitely like to attend a reading with this writer.

  23. Jennie says:

    We are delighted to read your words. Look forward to your reading to hear your voice speak your art.