Sweetheart. Lovesong. Model of inefficiency
Like the nuthatch who grabs one seed
And caches it in the oak. In the event I'm gone,
I leave you this reminder. I have always dreaded
Disfigurement—the man without a nose,
His sinuses clogged with cancer like the man
Without a country at sea with no friends.
These are metaphors for what's coming
Over the pass, then the switchbacks
Gearing down and the brakes squawking
Like jays, birds of plunder. Icarus wanted
What has come so easily to us. Take off your shoes.
Be scanned like the man who can't stop coughing
In the theater of consequences. Hold out your hands,
Someone will give you alms if you happen to be
In the proper country, one where charity is legislated.
Not here. Not here where finders are keepers,
Where the zoo of unfortunates attracts the strollers
Who point and jeer. The child in the arms of the
Gorilla. King Kong on the pinnacle of what was
The highest building. The empire of grandiosity.
See how I veer into philosophy when all I meant
Was to leave you some token, some clue
For the scavenger hunt, what you must bring back,
What you must prove. Oh listen,
You don't need to prove anything. Forgive me.
The rain keeps falling, it affects my mood.
This testament I want to leave you
As if I had any wisdom, as if what anyone says
Could avert the finality. I wanted to tell you something
Hopeful, not how scar tissue cannot be anesthetized,
Not that everyone must suffer the worst fear—
Rats in the mask and all that. This was intended
To console you. I wanted to write a song
Like a country road with a cabin and smoke
Rising from a chimney. I wanted to tell you
No one is cruel on purpose
But that's a lie. It's always purpose
That drives the truck backfiring
And gearing up for something:
That cliff. That pedestrian.
History's a blink. You occupy
Only one space surrounded by your shadow.
And then without light, you are nowhere.
But what I really meant was that feeling exists,
Why would anyone live otherwise,
Or wish you well, all of you
Now and to come. Especially you,
Sweetheart. Lovesong. I can't seem to stop this
Agony. When did I become preoccupied
With goodness. That outlaw spirit
To which I brought tribute. Heads. Hearts.
Bags of the stolen. You ought to laugh
But who laughs as the hood is fastened,
The noose tightened. Once we believed
Artifice trumps reality. We believed
A lot of things before breakfast
Like the White Queen in the woodcut.
Prisoners of jabberwocky and the Dickensian
Mills, listen we are orphans.
Our beloved ones are ghosts now.
In the book of maybes there's an asterisk
For the footnote which was our lives.
Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, etc. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She has published 16 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. Colby is also an associate editor of Good Works Review and FutureCycle Press. Visit her online at www.joancolby.com (firstname.lastname@example.org)