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Sunday, August 11, 2019


by Joan Colby

     “But I’m also torn between my pleasure at seeing part of American culture take significant strides toward equality and my sorrow due to the diminishment of interest in my work.” —Bob Hicok (above left), "The Promise of American Poetry,” Utne Reader, Summer 2019.

     “Why did a white poet see the success of writers of color as a signal of his own demise?” —Timothy Yu, “The Case of the ‘Disappearing’ Poet,” The New Republic, August 7, 2019

Dedicated to Bob Hicok

So now you know how those sonneteers
Must have felt, quietly posting along the
Bridle path with their rhyming dictionaries
And penchant for inversions, when you came along
Riding your free verse helter-skelter, breaking
Lines without regard like a mounted militia
In full rebellion. With your red wheelbarrow
And petals in the metro. White men of privilege,
You’re passe as the people of color race by on motorbikes
Down the crowded lanes where you used to
Summon a rickshaw. Plus ça change. And women
Shouting hands-off! Poems by non-binary
People who use the pronoun they
And where are you now with your forlorn
Confessions that cannot be absolved. This
Is penance contributor: the immigrants
Crossing the river on innertubes
Taking the risk you took once
Writing the word fuck flat out as a racehorse
Hitting the wire and snorting blood.

Joan Colby’s Selected  Poems received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and Ribcage was awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her recent books include Carnival  from FutureCycle Press, The Seven Heavenly Virtues from Kelsay Books and Her Heartsongs from Presa Press. Her latest book is Joyriding to Nightfall from FutureCycle Press.