Steven Shields
Searching for Joy
Last night I went down to the police station
to fill out a missing persons form for Joy.

I got asked the usual questions. Yes, it's been
more than 48 hours. No, I couldn't

remember where I saw her last. She
was wearing a yellow chiffon dress and patent

leather high heeled shoes. Five foot two
eyes of mischievous blue, silver hair.

My relationship with Joy? She
was my constant companion. The sergeant's eyes

narrowed on that one. She lived with you? Well,
sometimes. When she did it made my whole

day a little happier. So she had
some other address? Oh yes, she spent her time

all over town. She had lots of friends! The sergeant
sighed, laid down his pen and looked at me

and said listen buddy, we got work
to do, ok? Now get outta here before

I throw you in a cell for interfering
with the official business of the police.

Make your stupid existential search
on someone else's time. Now beat it, bud.

And a muscular officer showed me to the door
and snickered the shrink is two doors down, ya jerk

and he shoved me out and as he did I had
the great misfortune to collide with a gang

just let out from holding none too happy
to see anyone let alone a loony

poet, so they jumped me for whatever
piddling change I had meanwhile the sergeant

and the officer watched inside sipping
coffee laughing through the window no

doubt observing I had gotten what
was coming to me so I finally gave

them whatever they wanted and they ran away
howling in glee in the night. I sat bleeding

silent by the curb. And wouldn't you
just know it, at just that moment, Joy walked by

saluted smartly, clicked her heels and rounded
the corner. I got up to follow but as usual when

I got around the corner there was no
one there. I stood there laughing a little under

my breath, lit a cigarette, walked
home alone, searching for Joy as I went.

You can find the work of Steven Shields in the Tucumcari Literary Review, in frisson: disconcerting verse and Time of Singing. Sheilds also is the author of More Lost, Then Found, a chapbook. He holds a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Wisconsin and says, "[P]oetry for me is as much a means of communicating with a select audience as it is an aesthetic pleasure." If you would like, you can e-mail Sheilds at
All contents copyright The New Journal, 2002.