A snail can sleep three years in the sediment of a garden.
I awaken again and again for no reason, turn on a light.

The petunias have relinquished their hold on summer.
I walk in moonlight, surveying withered bloom.

From the shadowed pasture, a red fox barks
I see a glow of eyes like ghostly lanterns.

Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.
Insomnia is the fusion of age, I keep on walking.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.
Much of what I contemplate, cannot be defined


For my father

That April we went deep-sea fishing
on a charter off Pompano Beach.
The sonar located a school of
king mackerel. The rigged lines
hooked and bent. We buckled in
and fought. The mate with a gaff.
Deck slick with blood and the
silvery bodies. It was exciting.
Death after death.

Today, the anniversary of
your death. On this day 117 years ago
your own father was killed—a gunfight
in New Mexico Territory. One of those
meaningless coincidences that make us think
your heart arrested because his did
and therefore April 25th takes on
an ominous certainty, how our silvery bodies
will be laid out, the catch of a lifetime.


Examine history, how drinking the blood
Of an enemy or devouring his heart
Enriches your destiny. Kneeling at the altar
You accept the flesh of Christ and swill
The wine of his veins. You have fasted
For this extraordinary transubstantiation
Just as Vlad the Impaler gloated
Over the stakes adorned with victims.
It’s the idea of the undead, not the blood-lust
Or the coffin in the bowels of a ship
Or the fair-haired woman in a negligee
And an open window centered with the moon,
Instead it is the power of night sojourners,
The owls silent swoop, the bats radar
The wolf pack running in the snow.
After a troika pulled by black horses.


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). She is the editor of Illinois Racing News,and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 11 books including “The Lonely Hearts Killers” and “How the Sky Begins to Fall” (Spoon River Press), “The Atrocity Book” (Lynx House Press) and “Dead Horses.” and “Selected Poems” from FutureCycle Press .”Selected Poems” received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize. Her next book “Properties of Matter” will soon by out from Aldrich Press. Two chapbooks are forthcoming in 2014; “Bittersweet” (Main Street Rag Press) and “Ah Clio” (Kattywompus Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review.