Iowa Writes


Slate rivers of absence on which
urinary yellow streaks cling like a forgotten child on
an apathetic mother. Nothing grown
and nothing died.

Leprous paint on syphilitic homes
cry with the marks of illness. The dead ones
living within turn their lead filmed eyes
to me. Through me. I am air and saline.

Horizons unwind. They turn and eat their tails.
Three great lumps grown under the
sweating sun. Cancerous gardens.

The lakes are mud-drenched
and sullen. They eat well but never their fill
of unwise children and drowned dreams.

Decomposition freshens the air with fragrant
carcinoma. Intoxicant oblivion and endorphine
bliss. There are rats in the chocolate.
Roaches in the grain.

Behind are bricks and blood,
scraping the sky like the bones of giants,
and the Bronze-men who replace the Flesh-men
In shadows of perpetual flame.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


Joseph Donka is a high school English teacher, former newspaper columnist, aspiring young-adult novelist, and shameless libertine.  He has attended the 2012 and 2013 Iowa Summer Writing Festivals.  He currently lives in Palos Heights, Illinois with his wife, Jenn.  If you enjoy his work, please show your appreciation with scotch and bacon.

This is day two of our three-day celebration of Joseph Donka's poetry.  Shy was published yesterday.  Be sure to check back tomorrow for day three of our celebration!

This page was first displayed
on March 11, 2014

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