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Sunday, April 12, 2015


by Joan Colby

FAIRDALE, Ill. — At least two tornadoes unleashed incredible destruction through north central Illinois. Two people are dead, and several others are injured. Some people are also unaccounted for. Photo: A lone horse is staying close to what used to be his barn. Owners aren't being allowed back yet. —Sean Lewis @seanlewiswgn via WGNNews, April 10, 2015

The bloodied horse walks in small circles
Where the barn stood with the stall.
Straw, timothy, sweet feed
A bucket of spring water.

From the chopper, he’s observed
In a slow practiced rehearsal
Like a monk at his devotions,
Head bobbing, lame in the forehoof,
Miserably alive.

All that’s left of structure:
Splinters. The body of the mare,
His companion, thrown
Into a nearby field with the
Defeathered chickens. At dusk

The twister plowed a fifty mile
Path like a rogue
Tractor. Huge dark wedge
Of rotating force. Shingles
From the barn’s roof plant a pasture
Thirty miles away. This horse, bewildered
Knows only to stay
In the place that he knows.

All those whose homes are smashed
Pick through the ruins
For the one surviving thing—a photograph,
Quilt, child’s toy—that confirms
The lives they had. The horse
Keeps walking.

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