Joan Colby

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Those shoes in the gutters, always one
Never a pair. Who loses them?
Who hurls a shoe from a
Passing vehicle and why.
Was it to demonstrate a point
Of view. To annihilate the tension
That vined between two lovers
Like morning glory at 3 a.m.
Inadvertent, a foot stuck out
The window and whoops.

Who has seen these people
Limping out of automobiles
One shoe on, one shoe off.
No one throws bras or socks,
Sweaters or hats. Always a lone
shoe significant as a masked man
On a silver stallion whose mission
Is to save you.

Does anyone stop
To pick them up, these shoes
Innocent as lost children.
Broken. Deflated as hope.
Footless. Or footloose.
Is that what happens—
You make up your mind
To change your life and so—
Out the window with the shoe,
The damned shoe that
Pinched or rubbed, that kept you
Properly shod. 


The colt can’t get his legs under him,
Jammed tight against the planks
Of the stall. Cast,
Eyes rolling, nostrils bloodied where he’s
Scraped himself thrusting to revolve
A solid girth. Shoes flashing a bright
Iron, breath in heaves, sawdust
Caking each gasp. We strive
To get a rope on cannon bones and haul
Him free of constriction, kicking
Like a mad king at the ungiving wall,
Till finally he’s up, shuddering, wet as if a
Rainstorm had pinned him.

Once I saw a horse die like that.
I was ten. Two men wrestled the boards
To give him room. The horse struggled,
Then nothing. His big heart broke.
In the shine of his still glistening eye,
I could see my own reflection.
He was a pretty chestnut with a star.
His name was Arrow. I didn’t cry.
I just stood, waiting.
It seemed like something
Should happen, something I didn’t
Know about yet. Kid, one man said,
These thoroughbreds are born
Committing suicide.
An old cliché, but I didn’t know that yet either.
I thought there must be more to it.

Joan Colby's 14th book of poetry, The Wingback Chair, was published by FutureCycle Press. A chapbook, Bittersweet, is just out from Main Street Rag Press. One of her poems is a winner of the 2014 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. She is associate editor of both the Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.