Joan Colby

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Last Words 

Mother said I want to go to bed
Half-rising from the dinner table
As she seized up and died. Her last wordsArtwork by Gene McCormick
Prosaic, as is true for many
Taken by surprise. I have a
Terrific headache said Franklin Roosevelt.
Lord Byron said Good night.
Those facing execution had more time
To compose. I am ready to die for my
Lord, that in my blood the church
May obtain liberty and peace said Thomas Becket.
I realize that patriotism is not
Enough. I must leave no hatred or
Bitterness said Edith Cavell.
The suicides incline to brevity.
Goodbye. Everybody shouted Hart Crane
As he dived into the ocean.
George Sanders wrote Dear World
I am leaving because I am bored.

I have yet to consider
My last words which I hope
Will be poetic or memorable
As Stonewall Jackson’s Let us pass over
The river and rest under the shade of the
Trees or Emily Dickinson’s the fog
Is rising. More likely, however,
Will be Luther Burbank’s I don’t feel good.


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