Joan Colby is the author of seven books of poetry, including Blue Woman Dancing in the Nerve, and Beheading the Children. She has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Portland Review and South Dakota Review among others. In her literary career, she has won numerous awards, including the Illinois Arts Council Literary Award, Stone County Award for Poetry and Rhino Poetry Award. She has also been a finalist in the 2009 Margie Editor's Choice Contest, and in 2009 and 2012 Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize. She is the Editor of Illinois Racing News, and lives with her husband and assorted animals on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois, USA.
Distant danger lures
The romantic vision. Tourists at ease
On a mountainside terrace.
Far off, the sea and the tripod peak
Sporting its plume
Like a knight-errant.
Reports proclaim imminence:
How the sky will bloom
With grey chrysanthemums
The earth shake in an ague
Of foreboding. The small shacks
Collapsing beneath golden wheels
Careening the slopes.
Above it all, they surmise
Statistics—how many will die,
The economic cost, the liability
To tourism. They drain their glasses,
Adjust the positions
Of their reclining lounges
And lie back letting
The late sun gild their bones.
Chinaberry walking stick
Or riverstones polished by centuries.
The thin blue towel you
Buried your face in as the pondwater
Dripped from your shoulders.
The ponderous thunderheads sagging
The horizon. How you stood under the invisible trees
Watching the satellite orbit, its progress steady
As a heartbeat. Owls hunting
Or the redtail hawk with his speckled bib
Poised on a branch like a puppet.
Anger cleaves like a dinghy
Through the calm harbor as beyond
The breakwater gulls invent sarcasm.
The language you prepared
A soft cloak in road dust
A Styrofoam cup
Tossed into the trash to survive
For decades in the rotting hill
Of memory. The taste of black
Coffee, the bitter oils.