Is it Tuesday? Every Tuesday a new poem appears in the box and on the blog.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Poem 6--Joy Harjo

I chose today's poem because it's about, as the title suggests, the equinox, and here we are at the first days of spring. But, while the poem is about spring in some ways--the crocuses, the speaker's attempt to change her desire for revenge--it is also about balance, the way the world comes into balance on the equinox.  In this way, the speaker suggests, maybe she can balance the past, with its atrocities and genocides, with a future that has hope in addition to the pain of loss. Perhaps hope is too strong a word in this poem. Maybe it's just art that will carry her through, making her songs (poems) of "the blood, the marrow."

                  by Joy Harjo

I must keep from breaking into the story by force
for if I do I will find myself with a war club in my hand
and the smoke of grief staggering toward the sun,
your nation dead beside you.

I keep walking away though it has been an eternity
and from each drop of blood
springs up sons and daughters, trees,
a mountain of sorrows, of songs.

I tell you this from the dusk of a small city in the north
not far from the birthplace of cars and industry.
Geese are returning to mate and crocuses have
broken through the frozen earth.

Soon they will come for me and I will make my stand
before the jury of destiny. Yes, I will answer in the clatter
of the new world, I have broken my addiction to war
and desire. Yes, I will reply, I have buried the dead

and made songs of the blood, the marrow.


"Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1951. Her books of poetry include How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems (W.W. Norton & Co., 2002); A Map to the Next World: Poems (2000);The Woman Who Fell From the Sky(1994), which received the Oklahoma Book Arts Award; In Mad Love and War(1990), which received an American Book Award and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award; Secrets from the Center of the World (1989); She Had Some Horses (1983); and What Moon Drove Me to This? (1979). She also performs her poetry and plays saxophone with her band, Poetic Justice. Her many honors include The American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, the Josephine Miles Poetry Award, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, and fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Witter Bynner Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Hawaii."


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