by Joan Colby

Snails, oysters sinuous as mucus
To prepare the palate for the roughage
Of peasant speech, red capped radish,
Arugula glottal with desire for the
Extraordinary, iceberg lettuce patient
As a nun telling her beads.
The lascivious tomato, sliced or cherry
As entry-level fireworks. Soothed
With oils, steeped in vinegar.

Wipe your lips. Ah Clio in chef’s hat
And a smeared apron, now you emerge
With your iron pots smoking,
Your braziers, your spits,
The carving knives, the tongs,
The great spoon of submission.

Deliver us. Bless us. We say the grace
You demand. Salivate as you spread
The white cloth with raw meat,
With blood. With the pale porcine lard,
The rubicund goat’s head. The worst and the best
Of our hungers. You know
What we want and you serve us.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I began writing Clio poems about 30 years ago, starting with one titled “Ah Clio – Muse of History.” A number of the early Clio poems appeared in my first book Blue Woman Dancing in the Nerve from Alembic Press. Over time, I added more Clios as they came to me, and recently I’ve written quite a number, of which “Clio’s Dinner Party” is one. Kattywompus Press will bring out a chapbook of the Clio poems next year. The notion of Clio as the Muse of History appealed to me as we are all “victims” of history, one could say.

IMAGE: “Clio” by Charles Meynier (1798).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 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).One of her poems is a winner of the 2014 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. She is the editor of Illinois Racing News,and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 14 books, including Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press), which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize,  Properties of Matter (Aldrich Press, Kelsay Books), Bittersweet (Main Street Rag Press), and The Wingback Chair (FutureCycle Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press. Visit her at