Joan Colby

At the library exhibition, the sculptor says
“I prefer them” though it seems parallel
To writing poems in the style of Edmund Spenser.
A quirky riff or maybe just nostalgia for an age
Where saints and dragons mixed it up.

Romanus, Bishop of Rouen, raised his crucifix
To transfix the fire-breathing Gargouille,
Its bat wings spread in defiance.

Torched at the stake, its hot head
Refused to catch. Nailed up on bulwarks
To spew rainwater. Wasserspeier.
Grotesque gullet. Architectural device.

Others merely ornamental, like these.
Creatures from the Garden of Earthly Delights.
Monster infants with cherub wings,
Clawed toes and wrinkled hands,
Trident tails, little perky horns.

They can be purchased.
The sculptor takes orders.
I like the vengeful ones,
Vampire visages
And Lucifer wings.

But where would we put them—
On the barn roof
To terrify the starlings
Or abreast the porch door
To let bypassers know
We do not suffer fools.


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, just out from Future Cycle Press—Dead Horses.

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