I was having a conversation about Joy on Sunday, and I made a promise to myself that I would start living for the joy in my life. I told myself that there was no excuse for me not to be happy, and that I could shape my happiness and joy any way I see fit.
As I reflected on this, I thought back to one of my favorite spoken word poems that I’ve heard by a poet named Alysia Harris. The poem is appropriately titled, Joy. I decided for the sake of this post, I would post it for anyone else who needs a little Joy today, tomorrow or forever more.
Obese as the night sky is…
Its greed does not outweigh the first mouthful of dawn.
I’ll tell you what joy is:
It is the movement of 5,000 men dancing to the voice of 10,000 women
Their feet wrestling with their knees to stay beneath them.
A strong and common song
Pouncing upon their chests. Joy never lingers long
In the apex of another person’s laugh,
But I’ve found it reflects perfectly
From the level of my undecorated hips.
Long it went unnoticed.
A chimney sweep in a London street,
Crying for 6 pence and parents
I thought I would suffocate
Under the weight of all that darkness
A gargoyle of disappointment. Watchmen over my bed.
I prayed the beast would consume me
Instead of prowling from one relationship to the next.
I feared the croak of silence
And felt this barred unraveling by the rhyme.
But I promised my loneliness:
One day, I will write myself a Glass Essay
and then I will love like it cannot break.
‘Lord, give me good legs and an open road.
Lord, give me a juggernaut heart and a Japanese car.
Under the honesty of 60-watt light bulbs and eye-worn passages
There was my story,
Happy ending superimposed
Looking final and unchallenged.”
Joy is in the Song!
Joy is back bending
In what you think is submission,
But is really mercy.
It is the watershed
That comes from a good deed rippling into great character.
My mouth found my face again
Found it can still spread.
Not as easy as butter; not as fast as rumors.
But can still light up a room or two.
Sometimes it means you have to be an archaeologist and an astronomer rolled into one.
But this smile right here is a Genesis older than the doubt cubbyholed in the big bang’s center.
So though I have been shaking in my boots and my beliefs
I am proud of my ankles-
They be no turncoats.
Proud of my knees-
the creaking martyrs to dancehall.
Sometimes they had to break to keep me upright.
Proud of my thighs-
who unlike the Red Sea
never parted for a man posing as God.
So even though he left me,
What is not sunny about today,
Even the rainclouds can bless me.
So what if he won’t appreciate me,
The homeless man will hug me.
And the street corner will open up to me
And it will thank me for humming Aretha
And listening to its creases.
Joy is not being in love
And not being bitter.
It is friendship. It is agreement.
Joy is the gift of childhood wrapped for the orphan.
A Polaroid army crawling its way into life.
Joy is being beautiful without a man telling you so.
It is finding yourself warm enough for those lonely winter nights.
It is finding yourself
After so long.
So, to shaved heads and unsaddled burdens,
To the lion’s mane of insecurities,
To my favorite broken heart and every love I’ve ever had the pleasure of loving:
I know it might sound forceful to you…
But I am laughing like I’ve conquered something.
Because…. I have