Sheena, Queen of the Jungle,
Blonde, big-breasted amazon.
The train wheels clatter south.
My mother and aunts ahead
In plush seats cannot forbid
The Noel Hotel. My bed,
Two chairs pushed together.
A matter of economy. My cousin Clare
And I wander the streets. A boy's
Eyes meet mine Hey Red.
I feel excited as Sheena
Swinging on vines. Clare
Grabs my arm. We have to go back.
The neon evening disperses.
Morning, we're at the mother-house
Where Clare's older sister is to be
A Bride of Christ. Seven girls
In wedding gowns prostrate
Before the bishop in a
Mansion like Tara. Clare's sister,
A novitiate, her veil white
With the purity of unconsummation.
I am tired of prayer. Scan the crumpled
Pages of Sheena battling tigers
In the church of the jungle
The darkened streets glistening
With desperation and alarm
Where boys loiter smoking.
Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, etc. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She has published 16 books including Selected Poems from FutureCycle Press which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and "Ribcage" from Glass Lyre Press which has been awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Colby is also a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Kentucky Review.