ONCE by Joan Colby

Spring/Summer 2016


Once I thought switchbacks could define
How my life might skid around those curves
Where cliffs fell off without guardrails
To creeks far down secured with rocks
That glistened sinister as crowbars. Once speech
Would be useless unless it thundered
And spat out spume. Once tires could squeal
And lay down tread where someone stomped
The pedal and spun out.
Once I thought glamour could hang from trees,
That a woman could rise from the sea on a shell
Just like art. That art could be
Battered out of life with hammers.
Or chiseled. Swiped from a dimestore.
Once I imagined that like a bird strike
The plane of desire could be brought down,
Something so ordinary, you’d never expect it
To burn your wings.

Joan Colby

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner.. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She was a finalist in the GSU Poetry Contest (2007), Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize (2009, 2012), and received honorable mentions in the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Contest (2008, 2010). One of her poems is a winner of the 2014 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest.

She is the editor of Illinois Racing News,and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 14 books including  Selected Poems” from FutureCycle Press .”Selected Poems” received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize.  “Properties of Matter” ,Aldrich Press (Kelsay Books).;  “Bittersweet” (Main Street Rag Press) and The Wingback Chair, FutureCycle Press.”  She has two chapbooks forthcoming “Ah Clio” from Kattycompus Press and “Pro Forma” from Foothills Press as well as a full length collection “Ribcage” from Glass Lyre Press. Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.