Crouched in the paddies with the wounded
Waiting hushed until the hum
Like a loud dragonfly, the rotors whirring.
Bird they whispered. Birdbirdistheword.
Named that colt for those lofty
Memories of rescue. A certain promise.
He could fly. Won the million dollar
Delta Jackpot as a two-year-old. A Derby
Contender, maybe. Then he was wounded.
The way good ones too often are. Went on
To win a few. Retired to stud.
Lucky as the ones who made it home
With gimpy legs or confusions.
Died in a barn fire one year later.
So much for luck. So much
For that guy on the riverbank
Mind whirling like the rotors lifting up.
First there are flamingos,
real ones shading in every syllable of pink
unlike the lawn fakes solidly fuchsia,
Sluttish as five inch heels. The real flamingos
pose one-legged in salt water. Their necks are snakes.
They are less beautiful, than strange.
As in dreams where everything is almost
audible, almost exact, then tones change
to angelus bells, colors become strident.
These people are dead, that’s how I know
it’s still a dream. I haven’t wakened in relief.
The flamingos take off filling the sky with wings.
My father’s face in the marketplace, then gone.
Everything fades as an old Polaroid,
a failed technique. I worry too much,
about too many things. Unresolved as tumors,
pink, hot pink, tropical.
Such matters must be dealt with,
must be simplified. The lagoon
where the flamingos sleep is warm.
The temperature of the body is less
than that of birds though still fevered
with dreams of ambition. Unless the body
is dead. I am being prepared for the operation.
Two men in white. A saw. A drill.
SHE LOVED ELVIS
Born in 1899 , the old-maid sister Lived at home to care for the elders, Answered the phone in the state’s attorney’s office, Wore flowered dresses, high heels, a corset To contain the wayward flesh. Hair curled every Friday at the beauty parlor. Bright lipstick, two round spots of rouge Like dry kisses. She loved Elvis Presley And not the young one of Heartbreak Hotel But the fat jump-suited Vegas one who crooned Love Me Tender. She made a pilgrimage To Graceland tottering on plump feet Encased in patent leather pumps and later As she soaked in Epsom Salts, dreamed Of sparkles and dyed black pompadours.
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 17 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 (FutureCycle Press) and The Seven Heavenly Virtues (Kelsay Press). Forthcoming in January, 2018 is Her Heartsongs from Presa Press. Colby is a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Good Works Review.