I write to you on the stationery
of the chairman of the board of a defunct company.
Tell you how I’m trying
to assemble my life with the simple logic
of electronic components. Everything
comes apart in my hands, I can’t
comprehend schematics. What works must exist,
I can only believe
in what I touch.

The paper I’m using is an expensive stock
with a logo of a world
that has stopped spinning.

You write to me
on the back of a flyer published
by Women for Peace. Your red ink scrawls
like blood across the flip side
of the pamphlet: war is a macho machine.
Dismantle. Disarm.
Streets clog
with unemployed women.
Their talent was dexterity. They
assembled parts of speech
for the parts of the body.
You tell me
your lover mistreats you.

This is our beginning:
thinking of the ways we’re using up
our lives, saving trees.
Turn my letter over and see
the future of expansion without quality.
Your letter reversed reads
Peace is a woman’s issue.

Joan Colby, a poet and writer of the Midwest for nearly all her life, liked to say that she worked “anywhere a poem would strike” – so important to capture a poem in the moment, “like photographing a bird before it flies away.” Throughout her life, she published 25 books of poetry including Ribcage (Glass Lyre Press, 2015), The Atrocity Book (Lynx House Press, 1987) and Bittersweet (Main Street Rag, 2014), and received numerous awards. She was the editor of the trade publication Illinois Racing News for over 30 years, a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Good Works Review. She died on August 18, 2020, surrounded by her family.