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Monday, December 22, 2014


by Joan Colby

Mithridates survived 17 days before expiring.

Head, hands and feet stuck out
Between two wooden boats.
The face, the extremities smeared
With honey for insects, stinging wasps,
Flies. Force fed so that he lives
In the torment of worms and maggots
Eating him from the inside out. A death
Reserved for traitors.

A cordon drawn. He needs to hide.
They’d walked from the blast
Satisfied. Now it’s gone wrong.
His brother’s body beneath wheels.
Bleeding, he crawls under the tarp
Of a white boat in someone’s yard.
All day, silent, Trapped in torment
eating him from the inside out.

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