• Broadkill Review

Five Poems by Joan Colby

The Lazy Eye

The lazy eye slides inward

Learning to see aslant.

A nuanced vision where no surprise

Is unwelcome.

The solution is correction,

The black patch of piracy to foster

The greed of binocular conviction.

The cross-eyed attitude

Of a seeker disturbs the scenery.

If that’s a resolution, show me

Where the borders of good luck

Are fenced-in barb wire

Where the children on the roofs

Of cattle cars cling to a

Blistered landscape unfolding

Before their eyes.

Eating Habits

The Faroese love rot.

They hang the lamb until

It is marbled green

As a countertop. A block

Of ruined veins. Fermenting

Everything is their cuisine

Along with kelp and puffin eggs.

These islands claim more sheep

Than men.

In the Congo, bushmeat is ordained

To tease the appetite. The Bander-Log

Hullabaloo of monkeys. Skulls sliced

For cups to hold palm wine. A dish of brains

On banana leaves. It’s said this is how

Ebola spreads or HIV.

The Japanese prefer fish raw.

So impolite in a people who bow

With clasped palms that can also shove

Until the train-cars jam, body to body.

Contradictions, said Whitman, bloom everywhere

Like weeds to choke the grass he loved.

A man with no other means

Of protest will not eat.

His body a weapon of sharp bones.

Thus women earned the vote,

Their jaws wrenched wide

As they thinned to arrows,

Into checkmarks on a ballot.

Anorexic girls die for an image

In a magazine. The famous jockey

Snacks on a single peanut.

The anchorite fasts in the desert hut

Like the Lakota boy who learns his true name

After days of starvation.

Dogs of the Filipinos,

Cheval of the French,

Seals of the Eskimo,

Songbirds of the Vietnamese.

Nothing is taboo

From the exploring palate.

The Donner party ate their families.

The faithful eat the body of the Lord.

The Last Peaches

The last peaches have rotted,

Stippled with grey-blue bruises,

A too-sweet odor, not yet deathly.

They’d bought too many,

Tree-ripened from the south,

Not the hard baseballs from California

Shipped in refrigerated semis.

He says he hasn’t had such peaches

In years, sucking the peachy-yellow flesh,

Cleft like a woman. She slices hers

Into bite sizes, small as kisses.

She puts the sack in the trash,

It is late September now.

In the paper, she reads about a couple

Returning home to find the peach tree

They had tended all summer stripped

Of its wealth—a hundred peaches,

Not one left. A neighbor joked

About holding peaches for ransom.

It seems mean: the theft,

The heartlessness. She thinks a hundred peaches,

How many could two people eat?

How many would have rotted?

Her mother used to preserve peaches in glass jars

Where they delicately browned

Like people with a liver disease.

Some cultures believe the liver is the seat

Of emotion, not the heart, a simple pump.

The liver—indispensable waste-hauler.

Trapped juices of ascites.

She longs for stasis.

Branches swinging with their glory

At its height. The succulence of a

Fresh plucked peach.

Every taste-bud watering.