Feature Poet: Joan Colby

Joan Colby is currently the senior editor of FutureCycle Press and associate editor of Good Works Review. Her awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. Her Selected Poems (2013) received the FutureCycle Prize, while Ribcage (2015) was awarded the Kithara Book Prize by Glass Lyre Press. Visit Joan on Facebook, or on Twitter @poetjm.


After Midnight, Almost Sunday

Make everything that matters care.
Don’t sit upon conjecture like a hen
Hatching her egg and let it
Not be sterile. Let the blood spot,
When it is candled, bless
All huddled lives.

Again, it’s one a.m. and I’m
Not sleeping. The room is cold.
Tonight we might have snow.
The dog wants out. She has to go
Too often. If something is wrong
I don’t want to know.

Earlier, a car was in the ditch
Across the road. It must have been
The flashing lights of the tow truck
That woke me. Two men
Were illuminated in the glow
Attaching a hook to the bumper.
It seemed to take forever,
Then with a jolt, like a sudden idea,
It bolted onto macadam and departed
Hauled like a second wife
Into a marriage that hopes
To renew intentions.

It’s too late to ponder.
I should read something boring,
Not a mystery that begs solution
Or a magazine full of despair:
The irresolution of current woes.

I know I’ll be too tired to wake
From the dream where I lose
My car in that familiar lot
Behind the university. That feeling
Of almost indescribable anxiety
And the relief as finally
Bad news erupts from the clock radio.
Today at least, it won’t be me
Or anyone I love.


The Beat

The world’s in motion. That’s the elegance
Of a girl’s blonde ponytail posting
Upon the palomino whose pale
Plume keeps the cadence of the pace.
Shadowed down the bridal path
Beneath the overarching elms,
That’s the vast tick-tock
Of a city’s clock. Presence of
Pedestrians with their swinging purses
Or backpacks who know the meter
Of the vanished stars that set their hearts
Upon the scale where grace notes glissade
Into the big imponderable chords.
Heel and toe. The step dance
Batters the wooden stage
And a dog’s tail wags furiously
In acclamation of a visitor.
What you might think is senescence
Is simply the pause between the beats
That commands attention as you await
The other legendary shoe,
Then the bed creaking to the bodies’
Midnight rhythm in the rain or the squeaking
Mouse within the wall that wakes you
To your own heart pounding
In your ear, a tympanum. It’s true
The body keeps on going after dying,
Bones rattling with each shift of clay.
There must be bells ringing in the chamber
Of the prime minister as he composes
The epitaph of his final office.


All Hail! Joan Colby’s most recent full-length collection of verse is Her Heartsongs (Presa Press, 2018). To learn more, please visit her personal site by clicking on the cover image below . . .

Or, feel free to order the book directly via Presa Press.

Previous Feature: David Spicer

David Spicer has poems in Alcatraz, The American Poetry Review, Chiron Review, Easy Street, Gargoyle, Midnight Lane Boutique, Ploughshares, Scab, Tipton Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. He is the author of Everybody Has a Story (St. Luke’s Press, 1988) and five chapbooks. He has been nominated for a Pushcart once and Best of the Net three times.


Thank The Thunder

Everybody heckles Wild Bill
Hiccup: his Harley sputters,
growls, and shakes every time
he starts the beast. He named it
Torpedo because it’s faster than
a gorilla chasing a goat.
I thought that made no sense,
any more than his braided
green-blonde hair down a denim
jacket with a chocolate cake
under the Eiffel Tower patched
on its back. He’s a loner,
complains and brags at the same time
about no gang wanting him.
Besides, he earned his doctorate—
on Andrew Johnson’s impeachment—
in Arizona, where, he says,
he doesn’t need an umbrella.
Something about Bill nauseates
most people, including me:
he eats grasshoppers if it rains,
which isn’t often—thank the thunder—
and claims to sleep in a different
junk yard every night, wearing his
white cowboy hat to his Church
of the Wayward Bikers. He’s the only
member, besides yours truly,
and a couple of his students
wanting As in his course, “Abraham
Lincoln: the First Elvis Presley.”
I wouldn’t go, but I have no choice:
I’m his son.


Family Road Trip

When I was twelve, we toured the Badlands,
having won the vacation in a raffle sponsored
by the owner of the vending machine outfit.

I studied the granite faces and their cheekbones,
watching my blonde stepmother Carol and two
Chinese girls my father loved: he French kissed

them all four hundred feet from Teddy Roosevelt.
That night the five of us slept on the straw
mattress in the purple van nicknamed Slick.

Later, Carol commented on Lincoln’s ivory edifice,
talked about baked linguine, croutons,
and burgundy, listening to the radio.

Mei and Tan spoke another language
when we approached the almond groves,
and I latched onto them because their eyes flirted

with me, their hair curling like twine at the end
of a roll, and I brooded about school when we
arrived back in the trailer, vacation over.


All Hail! David Spicer’s latest chapbook, From the Limbs of a Pear Tree (Flutter Press, 2017), is available via Amazon. Simply click on the cover image below to learn more . . .

Previous Feature: Marisa Silva-Dunbar

Marisa Silva-Dunbar has been published in Anti-Heroin Chic, Better than Starbucks, Gargoyle Magazine, Poetry WTF?!, Redheaded Stepchild, and Words Dance Magazine. She graduated from the University of East Anglia with her MA in poetry, and has been shortlisted twice for the Eyewear Publishing Fortnight Poetry Prize. The E.I.C. of Neon Mariposa Magazine, you can follow Marisa on Twitter @theSweetMaris.


Je ne sais quoi                                                                                                                                                  —Found poem from Allison Mack’s Website

I’m attracted to the struggle of women—
I lived my life conflicted,
never satisfied, raging.

I felt threatened by them—
with painted lips and cat eyes in cashmere sweaters,
the CEOs in crisp, tailored business suits and pumps,
tough chicks in leather pants and white tank tops,
“Good Girls,” in white sundresses and heart-shaped glasses,
hikers in a ponytail with a backpack, and toned arms,
the club beauties in tight, bright body clinging dresses and bling,
Gamer Girls in concert tees and torn jeans.

This was a secret I kept
I wanted to be able to sink
into the women I surrounded myself with.


Love-bombed: November 23rd, 2017                                                                                                        —Found poem from Frank Report

Allison was ripe for the picking:
wealthy, at the start of a quarter
life crisis, searching for a cause
where she could take root and bloom—
there was no one to tether her,
not the paramour she kissed in moonlight,
not even her sweet-sponging mom & dad.

I was there her first weekend,
the ladies love-bombed her
with candied words for wooing.
She indulged it—soaked in their adoration.

The ladies knew how to get their talons
into her bones—how to make her feel
like she was chosen—the high priestess
they’d scoured the globe for.

Before the weekend was over,
they wanted to know, was she willing to be sacrificed
to their god? For the ritual she’d have to swallow
his words, lie on their altar and let him carve her
into his ideal, and he would crown her with Venus
trap, bilberry, oleander, and pomegranate blossoms.

She flew out the next day, to meet the god she’d been waiting for.


March 14th, 2014: My Global Museum Tour, Museum #2: The Neue Galerie                               —Found poem from Allison Mack’s Blog

A typical Vancouver evening: it’s raining—
the street lights reflect off the puddles on the concrete.
I’m living in an impressionist’s masterpiece.
We’ve become a staple here at the Shanghai Bistro.
A glass of white wine sitting in front of me,
finishing the last of the Chinese green beans.

His head is freshly shaven—
his beard bleeds right into his sideburns.
I have never seen him so tidy.
I’ve learned about Shakespeare, good wine, sexual innuendos, art.
Thanks to him, I have a list of “divine places not to be missed.”
Before him, I want. He teaches me how to be decadent, curious.
A true gentleman, he always opens my door, puts his napkin in his lap
—but then he launches into that raw, gritty world,
I’ve been so afraid of exploring.

I call him Big Daddy. He subtly puts me in my place—
shows me the beauty in all things dirty and unkempt.
The secret is all characters are looking to get laid.
The natural reddening of my cheeks in his presence
has become a reflex. He likes the smell of sweat.

I picture John living in his TriBeCa loft—
just after the height of the civil rights movement,
long before the AIDS crisis.
Manhattan was filled with bohemians.
I imagine brawls and free love; Woodstock 24/7.

I see my Big Daddy hosting dinner parties—
wish I was there with him, flowers in my hair,
peasant skirts caressing the floor,
bare feet and sun-kissed shoulders.
There, I embrace the bitter, dirty, sexy and sloppy parts of me.
I finally understand why John has been pushing me
to admit when I am horny or hairy. He loves the rawness of human beings;
the more he sees me—the more I let go.


All Hail! Want to learn more about Marisa Silva-Dunbar, including more about her found poetry regarding NXIVM? Then, click on the GIF of Allison Mack and Keith Raniere below, and visit Marisa’s personal site . . .

Previous Feature: DF Paul

DF Paul is a writer living in the midwestern United States. He hates writing about himself without the guise of creative deniability. A list of his published work can be seen at dfpaul.wordpress.com


The Ridge

You tell lies on The Ridge;
when a man with maggots in his hair
asks you a question
and stares hard to the right of you
the truth is unimportant.
You say whatever ends the conversation
or keeps it at skin level.
You’re under the trees in Kansas City,
a hundred feet up a hill
from the interstate.
Doesn’t matter which one.
They’re all the same.
You’re about to sleep on a fucking door.
You don’t feel compelled to open your heart.
So when a piece of glass
with an impenetrable cloud inside
comes your way, you say, “Hey,
what about a cigarette instead?”
You don’t even smoke.


The Fingers Lie

Four walls on a hill.
Ghost light barely breathes
A thing in the dark
with no use for eyes
or rest.
The record that plays,
its name lost in time,
stutters then slows.

The fire burns down low.
The last note lingers
then fades.
The music is gone
or he cannot hear
what sings.
Silence is distance
no voice can measure
without practice.

The night settles in
and he becomes cold
then numb,
lost in memories
where he does not touch,
but feels.
He claws at the ground;
his bones must tell him
his fingers lie.


A Voice That Barely Speaks

This is our voice,
this is our soul,
this is the last of our control.
This is our lie,
this is our face,
this is the depth of our disgrace.

This is the image we have chosen to portray,
our hope that an imagined light will never fade.
This is the wordless song we only wish we’d sung,
the frail notes and the fallen leaves we’d danced among.

This is another night alone.
This is the truth we needed most.
This is the lie we tell ourselves.
This is our love of getting well.
This is the strength we never had.
This is our silent reprimand.
This is the timid voice within.
This is the way we’ve always been.

This is the way we’ve always been.


All Hail! Care to learn more about DF Paul? Read more of his published writings? Or, view some of his photography? Then, click on the image below, titled “When We Want,” and give his personal site a visit . . .

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