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Thursday, January 15, 2015


by Joan Colby

HAYDEN, Idaho — A mom shopping at a Walmart store died Tuesday after her toddler, who was left in a shopping cart, reached into her purse and accidentally discharged her handgun, authorities said. Veronica J. Rutledge, 29, of Blackfoot, Idaho, had gone to the store in this Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, suburb with four children in tow at mid-morning. Her 2-year-old son, who was sitting in the shopping cart, reached into his mother's purse, causing the small-caliber handgun to discharge one time, said Lt. Stu Miller, Kootenai County Sheriff's Office spokesman. "It appears to be a pretty tragic accident," Miller said. Rutledge was dead by the time deputies arrived. --USA Today, December 31, 2014. Image: Veronica J. Rutledge Facebook Photo via The Independent (UK)

A purse is a lure, a bright magnet
For fishing fingers. All kids know
The mom keeps stuff they shouldn’t have,
Shiny car keys, loose change, the tube
Of pills that look like candy.

Grab at her purse to irritate
The mom, to get her attention
As she drifts from aisle to aisle
Deliberating, saying no
To whines and pleas.

This kid, only two, sitting in the cart,
Swung his fat legs and seized
Her purse. A toy like the cops
Have on TV. Says bang
And pulls the trigger. Wow, mom
For just a second, looked mad.
He shut his eyes.

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