Joan Colby

Charles in White



Charles is all in white,

Shorts, shirt, loafers, safari hat,

About to ply the local veldt

With erudition. He can beat

The naturalist to name a weed,

A native grass, an invasive specie.


He gasps as we trudge a steep hill,

Drops back and fumbles in his pack

For a pill he swallows dry. Strides on

Skinny calves marching to make the lead.


At the shelter, two newcomers

Under his spell: the dialogue

Of how things ought to be:

Conservation, gun control, sitting zazen.


Their eyes begin to glaze, they shift

On the rough benches. Charles

Is on the plains, his vision glowing

As if he had a lion in his sights.

They won’t escape into the bush.

Evade the spoor of his opinions

Or get a word in.

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 and Dead Horses (Lynx House Press), and Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press, 2013 FutureCycle Prize). 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.



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