Joan Colby

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Wood turtles stamp the ground
Like infuriated children to lure
Earthworms, a special treat
Along with slugs, snails and  other slimy
Delectables. I feel like stampingArtwork by Gene McCormick
When I observe how he has dug up
The tulip bulbs from a long-established bed,
Scarlet and golden every May,
Because he says, their bloom is brief.
Then there’s just these greeny spears
As if warriors left a jungly mess.
He wants all-summer color,
Perennial substance, asks me
If there are varieties of tulips
That bloom through August.
Listen, spring
Is defined with tulips, crocus, iris,
Jonquils, birdsong for gods sake.
That bracelet of velvet tulips.
Black tongues silenced by ignorance.
I think of a neighbor who cut down
A two-hundred year old white oak
So an above-ground plastic pool
Could take its place. The people
Who claim climate change is
A myth, who explain
What god has in mind, at least
For them, who entertain
Notions of trapping wolves and wild
Horses, who lower the educational bar
So everyone can pass, so the world
Can be ruled by idiots. So I can rant
Like a madwoman: O wood turtles
Come out and drum
The land senseless, until the worms
Rise in a slithery mass,
Until everyone understands
The necessity of tulips.


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 10 books including The Lonely Hearts Killers, The Atrocity Book and her newest book from Future Cycle Press—“Dead Horses.” FutureCycle will also publish “Selected Poems” in 2013