His Barn

His Barn – a poem

by: Dustin Joy

The barn door creaks on ancient hinges,
like her knees, with aches and twinges.

She opens it with apprehension,
melancholy, belief suspension.

She came here just to get the spade,
to dig potatoes, while there’s shade.

To him it never was a chore,
scorning melons from the store.

He sowed these seeds with loving care,
pulled the weeds, ran off the mare.

Sweet corn might be nice for lunch,
bright green onions by the bunch.

A fresh tomato, one zucchini,
suitable for tonight’s linguini.

She turns to go, this barn is haunted.
She steels herself, she wont be daunted.

She takes the shovel, hard to heft it,
cleaned and oiled from where he left it.

These things were his, his pride and joy,
her husband’s bench, his tools, his toys.

His works of art, both wood and ferric,
colorful and esoteric.

Whirligigs, doo-dads, inventions,
moving sculptures, good intentions.

She picks one up, a clever what’s-it.
She smiles, she laughs, she cries, she hugs it.

Compassion, kindness, a touch of crazy,
serenity some took for lazy.

Whimsical, her dad thought feckless,
she loved him more when he was reckless.

His things still lie here, strewn about.
Others said to throw them out.

Sad memories, to best be rid.
They never knew him like she did.

Without his spark, his touch of dreamy,
she steps outside, the sky is creamy.

The setting sun, he loved the gloaming.
Across their lives her thoughts are roaming.

A widow’s world, can she adapt,
a sewing circle, perhaps a cat?

She locks his barn up, safe and true.
She smiles for him, he loved that, too.




FIFTY – a poem

by: Dustin Joy

I hurt my back today, brushing my teeth.

 To tell the truth, it’s not a thing,

I thought a person could do.

The mechanics are obscure.

It certainly never happened when I was


Praise be to ibuprofen.

The only lasting injury was to my pride.



In the cockpit, my handsome


year-old co-pilot and my pretty


year-old flight attendant share an exuberant laugh. 

I say hello and smile. The laugh dissipates into the ether.

I do the math. Twenty-three plus Twenty-one equals


They are properly solicitous 

of their old Captain.

They inquire about my day, and my wife, 

and the weather in Santa Fe.

 But they don’t tell me what was

 so funny.



I stop to to talk to my daughter’s roommate, 

to compliment her editorial 

in the college paper, 

the one about cultural appropriation. 

I sense a kindred spirit, her fight so like

the liberal causes I championed, when I was


My brilliant, fierce, and caustic essays beat down apartheid (at least in Galesburg, IL).

But she is late, and on her way to class, 

and distracted by a major crisis, 

involving her Instagram feed.

Respectful and deferential, she holds the door for me as we go out,

as if I was an old man, and not a fellow warrior 

in the battle against injustice. 



I think I spent too much of my youth being


I followed the rules, I aimed to please, 

I got good grades, and mostly abstained from


I kept my powder dry, I lay in wait, 

I built a nest egg, and I collected data. 

I awaited the hour when I could use my competence,

my acumen, my knowledge, to awe, to amaze, to impress. 

I would grab the world by the lapels and shake it. 



And now I am really


with a larder fully stocked 

with wisdom and pertinent experience. 

And now that I am ready it seems that 

the treasure I assiduously cached, a penny at a time,

in the mattress of life, has been the victim of inflation. 

It is a Cabbage Patch Doll after 1985. 

It is a buggy whip in 1930. 

And if you’re not also


you don’t even know what that means,

just like I don’t know what LMFAO means. 

I should probably look that up

or stop using it.



There is little call for what I have accumulated

and it’s value seems to diminish day by day.

I wish I had read Shakespeare again when I was 


and heeded Rosalind’s words to Phoebe;

“Sell when you can, you are not for all markets.”

Now I’m 


and even the god-damned toothbrush

has turned against me.