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Friday, November 14, 2014


by Joan Colby

Meme source: Twitter

Reading how the hens suffer
Crammed by the thousands in metal cages,
Stacked stories high,
The air thick with dust and feathers,
Beaks clipped, thin necks bloody,
The dying decaying beneath calloused claws,
Adhering like bathmats to the wire floors.
Forced to lay seven times the norm,
Until spent, to be seized
By the handsful, gassed and ground
For pet food. Never seeing sunlight
Or spreading wings or nesting in trees
Or taking dustbaths or establishing
The pecking order. Reading that to guarantee
A normal chicken life would mean
Paying triple or more for this
Scrambled plate, I tell you
I’d pay whatever it costs to let them be
Chickens scratching in the dirt, how maybe we
Should set up the nesting boxes
In our old coop and get some
Leghorns, though I know we won’t
Bother really, and much as I abhor
What I am reading, there’s the long distance
Between slick paper and the
Long, long barns and my fork.

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 11 books including The Lonely Hearts Killers and How the Sky Begins to Fall (Spoon River Press), The Atrocity Book (Lynx House Press) and Dead Horses and Selected Poems from FutureCycle Press. Selected Poems received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize.  Properties of Matter was published in spring of 2014 by Aldrich Press (Kelsay Books). Two chapbooks are forthcoming in 2014: Bittersweet (Main Street Rag Press) and Ah Clio (Kattywompus Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.