Joan Colby

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Plastic surgeons report
People are requesting alterations in order to make
Their noses appear smaller in Selfies.
In close-ups Selfies distort the nose
Which affects the attractiveness of the subject
Who exists primarily as a Selfie
Trapped in an I-phone
To be displayed or forwarded.

A woman attempting a Selfie
On a canyon’s brink took an indelible step
Backward for a better exposure.

Two girls on a bridge took a Selfie
Which showed their suspected killer
In the background, a blurred man
In a hoodie moving forward.

They crowd as many as they can
Into a friends’ Selfie, all grinning
In unison with imperfect noses
That bring them to the surgeon’s anteroom
Holding up their phones to show
What needs to be done.

The self, sucked from reality
Into the lens that disdains
Humility, reveals ego and id
In beaming arrogance. Here is the soul
Skinned of forbearance
And mercy. Teeth polished to the gleam
Of a dedicated carnivore. Eyes
Set frontally, unblinking and shameless.


Koi, gold, reddish, white, piebald
Begging for bread crumbs at the rim
Of the Japanese pond. I’m reminded
Of Dave’s catfish open-mouthed off the dock
Rearing up like horses as he tosses
Purina Chow. They come like obedient spaniels
As his boots tread the planks.

Consider hooks, how they lift you
From the element you savor. A dying man
Gasps for breath bug-eyed
As hauled-up fish. Measured and hung
From a gallows of old boasts. Or stuffed
To swim across a paneled den
Never getting anywhere.

I dangle my fingers among lily-pads.
A Koi nudges my hand,
Looks right at me. I tremble thinking
Of all the lives I’ve taken.


Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, Gargoyle, Pinyon, Little Patuxent Review, Spillway, Midwestern Gothic and others. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She has published 20 books including Selected Poems from FutureCycle Press which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and Ribcage from Glass Lyre Press which has been awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Three of her poems have been featured on Verse Dailyand another is among the winners of the 2016 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. Her newest books are Carnival from  FutureCycle Press and The Seven Heavenly Virtues from Kelsay Books. Her next book Her Heartsongs will be published by Presa Press in 2018.  Colby is a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Good Works Review. Website:  Facebook: Joan Colby. Twitter: poetjm.