My 21st book "Her Heartsongs" is published by Presa Press in the U.S. as of Jan. 2018. It was released for exclusive European distribution via Gazelle Book Sellers, LTD in July. There's a fine review of it by editor Stephen Scott Whitaker forthcoming in The Broadkill Review. As for January--the pros: another birthday! the cons--another birthday? Well in dog years, I am 11 1/2.
In the year 27 BC, on this day
The name Augustus (the exalted one) was conferred
On Octavian, heir of Julius Caesar.
After the defeat of Marc Antony, Octavian
Presided over Rome’s magnificent expansion. Died
And became a God.
In the year 378, on this day
Fire is Born (erroneously translated as Smoking Frog) marched
Into the great city of Tikal
To overthrow the old monuments and decapitate
Great Jaguar Paw according to Stela 31
Deciphered in the year 2000,
In the year 1547, on this day
Ivan the Terrible was crowned Tsar.
As a boy he tortured his pets, as a man, his boyars.
He offered prayers for the thousands of souls
He sent in agony heavenwards.
In the year, 1909, on this day
Shackleton located the magnetic South Pole.
His Nimrod Expedition famous for
Its Manchurian ponies, an unsuccessful ruse
In an icescape. Though he failed
To reach the Pole itself,
He was knighted and in his own defense, said
“Better a live donkey, than a dead lion.”
In the year, 1919, on this day
Prohibition was enacted in the USA, giving rise
To the Roaring Twenties, flappers in rolled stockings,
Speakeasies, bathtub gin, bootleggers,
Al Capone, Scott and Zelda.
In the year, 1945, on this day
Hitler went underground, never again to rise
In the pure Aryan atmosphere
Of his worst dream. Later that spring he
Drank tea with Eva and caressed
His Shepherd Blondi. The gramophone played
“Red Roses Bring You Happiness”.
Russians at the gates, he cried “I have been
Betrayed by everyone I trusted.”
Then: “What does it mean: fight?”
Then: “Is Paris burning?”
The wedding vows, the vainglorious will,
Prussic acid, the Walther pistol.
In the year, 1973, on this day
This day was declared to be
National Nothing Day, its goal
“to provide Americans with one national day
when they can just sit without celebrating,
observing or honoring anything.”
In a dream as long as winter
Tuber and bulb
Shut their mouths on song.
The eavesdropping wind
Putters around, ear to the frozen
Ground. There is nothing to hear.
The branches are bare.
Roofs and eaves curdling with ice.
The late sun, a melon ball
In a frigidaire.
Last night’s blow has sculptured a curve
Of snow along the fence
As perfect as the swerve
Of a woman’s hip.
A power line runs like a nerve
In a translucent casing of ice.
A necklace of cuneiform birdtracks
Links houses. Leads the eye
To birds on the wire fence
Peering jerkily at the invisible.
Our black dog strolls
From her kennel and patrols
The white expanses.
A study in contrasts
For lovers of the obvious.
Fog grips the house with pale gloves
Like a long-ago woman dressed for visitations.
Mid-January, what snow remains
Is dingy as a book of lies.
Revise the calendar to
Cornstubble where geese throng
The easy pickings, where a freezing rain
Begins to ice the power lines.
It seems like forever, days like these
Where there’s no reason to celebrate,
No music canting its grace notes,
No sweet talk, no curses.
People of faith speak to ghosts.
A friend gets testy defending UFOs,
Citing a schoolyard of children, two Japanese
Pilots. It’s better I suppose
Than what I think which is nothing.
Like an evil spirit, the fog
Swallows our road.
Whale Road Review
© 2018 Joan Colby
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