Middle of the Damn Night

The weather radio beeps
From the living room to shake me
Loose of dreams. A voice talking
Low and hurried like a spy.
I rise naked. Five red jewels
Denote severe storms are on the way,
County by county with brigand winds.

The wall of sky suddenly whitewashed. I
Consider pulling on jeans in case
The roof should soar off hawklike
Leaving me and the furniture exposed.

Rant of marine warnings
Where party boaters might still be
Dancing. In 15 minutes the trees
Are fated to kneel and raise their
Leafy arms like the innocents
Trapped in a Seven-Eleven.

Lawn chairs cartwheel the road
And garbage cans applaud. I’m still
Undecided about clothes, if I should
Wake you or the dog or head for the cellar
As admonished. Outside the screen flashes

A silent commercial and the whole drama passes
To the north with muffled cymbals and drums.
New cheeps like a nest of blown-down fledglings.
Crosscountry dictation extending the nightwatch.

This object purchased to foil disaster, so like a soldier
Trudging the perimeter of sleep, I could stay
Awake all damn night eyeing a sanctuary
Of concertina wire. O, weather: brute

With a tire iron and a jack boot,
I’d rather be a bird in a net of lassitude,
I’d rather hand over the money and the keys,
I’d rather go the hell back to sleep
Punching the button to mute.


* * * * * *

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, The Atrocity Book and her newest book from Future Cycle Press—Dead Horses. FutureCycle has just published her Selected Poems. A chapbook, Bittersweet, is forthcoming from Main Street Rag Press next winter.

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