Joan Colby

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White Spider

A tiny white spider scrambles
Up the side of the wash basin
As I turn the spigot releasing
A stream of hot water.

Clearly, he senses danger,
Seems to be looking
Nervously as his articulated limbs
Clamber out of the way.

I’m careful to divert the gush
Away from his endeavor.
He wants to live, not drown,
Not be swept away

Into a drain the deepens underground
Into a septic field in the front pasture.
The old are conscious of how precious
And insubstantial life can be.

Once I’d have crushed him with
A washcloth and felt nothing.
Now I cheer him as he ascends the rim
Of the sink and sallies up the wall

Almost translucent, a thread
Of getaway.

The Poetry Thief

Excerpts from “The Shooting Gallery”
…he’s never leaving
Without putting a big pink bear
In your arms…
…not speaking to you, swearing at a
Car that cuts him off…

She stood in front of my table
Fingering her wallet
I liked that poem you read. She was middle-aged,
Faded blonde, ordinary, not artsy like many there
For the first reading of the season.

My dad always got me one, she said. The bear. I barely
Paid attention, busy signing books for others,
Taking checks or cash.

It was pink just like you said. Her voice grew angry.
She fixed me with a stare.
My dad was a policeman.
You must have known him.

I don’t think so, I muttered.
The poet next to me whispered
Something I couldn’t hear.
The acoustics in the gallery
Amplified the noise of people talking.
There was a sketch displayed of three
Running horses. I deliberated on
Spending the money.

She shook her head, agitated.
It was pink. Then she seized one of my books
And dashed away into the crowd.
She stole your book! Alan exclaimed in surprise.
Let it go, I warned recognizing that look
He gets when someone cuts him off. Just like
In the poem.

If she wanted it that bad, she should have it.
It’s not that simple, said Christina. She was angry.
She thinks you stole her experience.
She was paying you back.

David said Perhaps it’s a trend.
Poetry thieves. Bashing a truck through the gallery
Windows the way they do with jewelry stores.

Ruth added You ought to be glad.
It was a compliment.

I felt singled out. She didn’t steal the book
That guy wrote about muskie fishing or the teacher’s
Comic memoirs. The mystery novel or the
Collection of short stories. It’s clearly poetry
That grips the soul, that stirs the kleptomaniac or
The merely crazy.

I needed more opinions to write
“Thirteen ways of looking at a Poetry Theft.”:

Jeff said, Who steals poetry books?
I can’t give mine away.


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 book is Her Heartsongs from Presa Press. Colby is a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Good Works Review. Website:  Facebook: Joan Colby. Twitter: poetjm.