I have written poetry and short fiction all my life and published a lot of it. My day job is editor of a trade publication Illinois Racing News. I live on a small horse farm in northern Illinois with my husband and various animals. My latest book, "Ribcage," (from Glass Lyre Press) recently won the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. I also am an associate editor of FutureCycle Press and Kentucky Review.
Artists of Exactitude: Audubon and Stubbs
The bird that Audubon depicted
With such scrutiny was compelled to fly
Into the static existence of the portfolio.
Stunned out of the bayou,
Each feather a perfection of detail.
Its inanimate spirit a paradox.
The horse that Stubbs bled dry
Pumped full of tallow to investigate
Its arterial and venous expressways,
Strung up on hooks and skinned
Exposing the armature of muscle and bone
Exact as chilled rage defenestrated
Upon the page of science and art.
Obermeisters of observation
Threading the needle of particulars—
Why foil the imagination with diffuse mists
Of oriental peaks or pointillist
Picknickers or watercolored wetlands.
These two seized
The heart of passion, that bloody industry.
To get it right, the object
Has to die
So we can see its
Utterness, its suspended miracle.
Battered little mummy wraps
Ransacking a circle
The shape of December wind.
Not one whole or useful. The excavated body
Of the season is mocked. Bare
Black candelabra trees
Refuse to catch fire. Flint of thought
Lies dull in the pocket of the sky’s
Steel overcoat. The river
Memorizes a monotonous scale of ice.
Song of mutes, dumb carol, imago of
Robbed tombs, sign of the black bird
Flying nightfall out of
What occurs next will be something
Between snow and rain
Uncrystallized but prickly enough
To quench tears and skid tires
Like the ones bearing us over unforgiveable landscapes
Crying out in exasperation or loss.
Nothing in control or making contact,
Hydroplaning the slick cross of direction.
Everywhere open arms of fields
Wait to receive our hurling bodies
Abliss with ignorance, shattered headlights
Locating their constallations
In the wreckage of space.
Let us return to the image of leaves
That a woman noticed
Departing from the library, arms
Heavy with books, each a revelation
Of similarities and oppositions.
Fluttering off on tiny inked wings—crucifixes,
Cradles, hieroglyphs of lambs and oxen,
Sacred tripods, stars that insist
Look down, look down
And the footnotes following
With their embalming Magi gifts.
Letting You Know
I been putting a boat in these waters forty years
He narrows his eyes.
A stock phrase for game wardens
Or a smartass kid along for the trip
Who thinks you can fly-fish for
Musky, pike and walleye.
These lakes are cold and deep
Chained with channels.
You fly in on a DeHavilland Otter
Crammed with supplies; shingles,
Fuel, beer. Land like Jesus walking
On the waves. It’s clear
How certain phrases have a denotation
That means don’t mess with me
So expertise demonstrated
With a polished CV
Has nothing on the guy in a Bass Pro cap
With a leech on a jig and rough hands ready
To hook, gut and fillet.
Main Street Rag
©2016 Joan Colby
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