Sunday, October 11, 2015

Joan Colby- Three Poems


When the horse dies
The brain is last to succumb.
The thrashing legs stilled.
The twitching lip.
The eye shines onward
Desperate to live. I wait
For it to film.

Needle in the vein
She goes down fast
Not like a wall crumbling
In tutus of dust
but like a stricken tree, sudden,
Awful, loud.

Now at last
Lying peaceful
Relaxed as she slept
When newborn
Her dam standing sentry
In the ancient habit of mares.

Founder, that’s a word
For horses and ships.
Coffin bones sinking and spars
Deep creaking agony
Of blood and ocean,
Common denominator of salt.
She licked salt blocks,
A bin of oats,
Bucket dark with water.
Once she raced like a schooner
Hooves and sails flying,
Steel in her mouth
A crowd shouting
Like a crew sighting land.

Her stall empty now,
Lonesome bay of straw
Gilded with dust.

In winter in the stone barn
She steamed
As if below decks.
In summer, manure smoked
As if alive, inoffensive waste
Of grass eaters, a holiness mad
Nebuchadnezzar hungered for.

Evolution made the horse
Pose upon landlocked toes
Like a ballet dancer. The hoof cannot expand
Blood flows and flows
Loosening anchors of laminae
Till like a ship broadsided in big seas
The horse rocks back
Sweating, its salted hide
Glazing eyes and grinding teeth
Like a keel sundering
Is lost now, lost
To the renderer and his hooks.

From "Dead Horses" published by FutureCycle Press--first printed in the new renaissance


When everything was lost,
he snuck into the house
that once was his, pulled out
the copper pipes, the color of
her hair when they first met,
removed the brass faucets,
then the sink and the commode,
sledgehammering them into
oblivion, the way she’d slept
in the arms of Luminol ignoring his old
rant, tore out the cabinets,
defaced the walls with sprayed
obscenities that she’d laugh off
not caring one damn thing
how he felt, pulled up the carpets,
poured grease on the wood floors.
She’d stripped memories
like wallpaper, turned her head
against the scrape of his whiskers.
He broke the bed into kindling,
she’d never sleep with any man
but him if he could help it. Then
he poured concrete down all the drains.
Try to fix that.

From "The Wingback Chair" published by FutureCycle Press. first printed in Stoneboat


Ah Clio, fact-finder, your stone sandals

On the pedestal, how weary you become
Truth-telling. Your opal eyes observing
The past’s indelible shadow
Unreeling as the centuries lengthen
In a sorry persistence. The owl-faced moon
Stares at a landscape on which you inscribe
Endless notes for a bible of certainty.
Clio, the charm of fallacy
Waylays you. How the ingenuity of story
Where the bear casts off its pelt,
The stepmother burns with affection,
The woman abjures persuasions of the serpent,
Can turn out any way you wish.
The ease of it. Tongues forking like tributaries.
The granite visages cracking. Each slab
Falling with its glyphs
To a fine dust you sweep, broom-mother,
Over the sills of illumination.
Climb the blue stairs of concordance,
Risers of dream and waking
To loose the knots of sober research,
Embrace a cascade of plots,
Elaborate, convoluted, convincing
As the gravity of your transcriptions.
Clio at the keyhole of every secret door
Where the unspeakable bargains
Transpire, acts of desperation,
Murder and desire. The wasp of time
Buzzes your ears. O Stinger,
Sweetheart in the cave of shadows
You spread your fingers taking us all
On a beautiful one-way ride.

From "Ah Clio" published by Kattywompus Press --first printed in Atlanta Review

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