Friday, November 24, 2017

Poems I Admire #44

Memorizing Darkness

They remembered how she lay all day
Facedown on the bed after the sheriff’s knock
And then arose to reset the clock of her life.
Could she ever forget? Of course not.
Retold, the mind paints a scene
Even more vivid. How the cattle guard
Traps the wagon, the gunshots ringing
And there he is running and firing
His dark eyes wide as when they made love.

Memory: the stone door that locks on
An image forever, a bloodstain that can’t
Be scrubbed. The lies we’re told: how home is where
When you go there, they have to take you in.
Or that you can’t go home. As if anything
Will ever be the same. As if a stall means safety.
Ghost horses screaming in the flames.

First appeared in THAT Literary Review

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, Gargoyle, Pinyon, Little Patuxent Review, Spillway, Midwestern Gothic and others. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She has published 20 books including "Selected Poems” from FutureCycle Press which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and “Ribcage” from Glass Lyre Press which has been awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Three of her poems have been featured on Verse Daily and another is among the winners of the 2016 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. Her newest books are “Carnival” from FutureCycle Press and “The Seven Heavenly Virtues” from Kelsay Books. Her next book “Her Heartsongs" will be published by Presa Press in 2018. Colby is a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Good Works Review. Website: Facebook: Joan Colby. Twitter: poetjm.

Friday, November 17, 2017


One was a ball-buster; a lusty see-through blouse
firmly nippled and slightly off-white, knotted
just above her pierced tan midriff exposed so low
it might have been hard to see the way her red skirt
led straight to the flesh of her thighs – except they
were her thighs, and she was a goddess.

The other was a head full of wit and the wry, dry
vocabulary of one dismissive glance after another;
a reading-glasses-on-a-chain-wearing emasculation
who kept a black and well-oiled Saturday night special
tucked in the way down deep of her soft leather handbag,
stripped from the hides of every man she’d ever tanned.

They were two ends of the very same sisterhood,
a spectral pretending that day after day neither one
cared that she knew everything there was to know
about living all alone.

First appeared in Chiron Review - Issue 108

Friday, November 10, 2017

Poems I Admire #43

Lunch on the Way Home from Children’s  
Don Colburn

When our charburgers didn’t come,  
Becca set the book of matches down exactly  
for kickoff and taught me the waiting game.
Finger off thumb, one flick, and the matchbook
slid spinning across the dark shellac
into my lap. I sent it skidding back,
dared it to hang off the edge just short
of plunging over. Isn’t that the goal
even when you’re not sixteen?
If any part of the matchbook stuck out
past the rim – touchdown, six points.
Sometimes she’d shake salt
to slicken the field, make things more
dicey. No matter where my shot landed,
Becca laughed as if she could forget
the MRI and what was growing.
Losing 12 to 6, I plucked
an ice cube from my glass
and flicked and she cried “Whoa-ho!”
as it sailed unstoppable over the edge.
I still see the love of mischief
in those eyes, so close to happy.

From As if Gravity Were a Theory

Don Colburn is a poet and retired newspaper reporter in Portland, Oregon. He has published four poetry collections, most recently a chapbook called Tomorrow Too: The Brenda Monologues. His poems have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, and won the Discovery/The Nation Award, the Finishing Line Press Prize and the Cider Press Review Book Award. During his newspaper career, he was a reporter for The Washington Post and The Oregonian, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing.

Friday, November 3, 2017

But Billy Loves Betsy

If Billy’d pulled just one more C instead of learning to endure
the odor fatigue of citrus degreaser or the rattling of torque wrenches

and air-compressors, maybe he and Betsy would have figured out
how to pretend cactus flowers and hoot owls are fancy. Some men

and many terrified wives end their despair with spoonfuls of fate
that always come out wrong, disfigured as a train-tracked penny –

thinned and spent as the rest us. Tears, biting lips, sharing the rut
in the middle of their king sized bed, addictions to strong coffee,

and letting others know all about their spooning into deep sleep –
despite the scratches on their backs – are all artifacts, the remains

of something civilized, a twisted and warped ruin that stays as lovely,
somehow, as anyone willing to name whatever shape that may be.

Included in my chapbook "The Allness of Everything" (Maverick Duck Press)
(To learn more about "The Allness of Everything," click here.)