The barn behind our house was nailed shut,
scheduled for demolition. Stay away,
my father said, strange people lived there.
We found a side door, pried it open,
walked into a world of dust
and forgotten lives. We built
a bee catcher once. They crawled
in and were trapped. The barn
buzzed just like them. We began sorting:
flammable cans, unflammable cans;
empty syringes, full syringes;
movie, action, porno, business cards.
When we found the motors,
it all became clear—these were machines.
So we named them:
machine for melting, machine
for catching spiders behind refrigerators,
machine for seeing the past.
The piles grew too wild, shattered
syringes mixing with paint and bullets,
lighters with lit matches, flames
appeared magically under the floor.
We ran in circles, shirts over our heads,
trying to stamp out the piles.
Still hearing sirens, we sat in our room.
My older brother took the blame.
Later he helped tear down the barn.
I undressed and crawled into my sheets,
a thousand bees covering their whiteness,
a thousand machines burning in my head.
Allen Jones has an MFA in poetry from University of New Mexico and a PhD in English from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. He has taught in Mexico, Korea, China, Spain, Louisiana, and he presently teaches literature at the University of Stavanger in Norway. His work has appeared in Blackbox Manifold, b(OINK), Moss Trill, Slipstream, Bird’s Thumb, Whale Road Review, Pilgrimage, Third Wednesday, The Deus Loci and the Lyrical Landscape, The Bitter Oleander, Fiction Southeast, The Louisiana Review, GSU Review award edition, The Southern Anthology: Louisiana, Ekleksographia, Two Hawks, The American Journal of Nursing, Flaming Arrows, Korea Lit, Maudlin House, and various other journals.