BlackJoy | Lindsay Young

 

The rumors are true.
It’s hard
Being black
And alive

There are bruises
For every life lost living on my body
Every hashtag carved into my bones
Every street light in my temples left on
Waiting for someone that’ll never make it home again

And I just wanna huddle
Hug this family close to me
Bury my face
In this struggle
Breathe deeply in unison

But they’ve forgotten something
Call it shadow
Keep it secret
And barely there
An afterthought-horizon of what it means to live life happy
I heard
The sun don’t shine bright enough on Black Joy

Left it in cold
Hoping it would freeze up
And fizzle out
And break to dust
They made us
A sundown town of teeth and laugh
And hoped Black hung Joy before morning came back

But we
With our night vision
And our slick lips
And our tough skin
Made a deal with darkness
So rich
We got light beating down our doors

Black Joy
Is what happens when you try to kill a soul
And it lives
Reborn again
And again
And again
Wherever they said it didn’t belong

Like God
Taking his time with this
Saying I love you so much
I left you in the Lion’s den
Because I knew you would come out fighting
Slayed Goliath
Made hell fire look icy
My children

Black Joy
Is God said,
I’ll make me a woman
Give her a body like heaven
A crown like a King
A mouth that fears no man living

Set her in stone
To lay the foundation
And she cracked it wide open
As if to say
Bitch I’m back
By popular demand
And I slay
I love us loud and hard because I want the neighbors to know this name

Black Joy
Is he so strong, he isn’t afraid
Like he sees them coming
With chains
And cuffs
And “whatever you do is never enough”
But he still struts, chest first
Fists smoothed over
With fight for my life
And fight for his life
And fight for her life
And fight life

And win
And win
And win
Not enough graves on Earth to bury body sized pride in

Proud
Like they came for me
And left with nothing

Black Joy is spitting in the face of a loaded gun barrel
And saying “We gon be alright”

Like you can’t scare me into not being here
And not being happy
And not being live

We
Are the family tree that survived the tornado

The anchored ship that did not sink
The whip that missed
The rigged contest that
We keep winning

Black Joy
Is we have every reason
To never feel joy again
But we’re still grinning
Showing teeth without permission

We are the flowers bloomed
In a dark room
You don’t have to trust it
You can see it in the cracks of us
Filling us up

Black Joy
Is survival wasn’t enough

We chose live.
Live like they want us alive
Live like
We found solace in the tunnel,
Fuck a light at the end of it.

————
Lindsay Young is a 21-year-old poet from Long Island, New York.  She just recently received her BA in psychology from Binghamton University, where she aided in the development of the slam poetry scene on campus. She has competed in the 2015 and 2016 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational as well as had her work featured on the TheReighnXY, an online publication geared toward millennial women of color.  Her poetry often focuses on womanhood, the black community, and romance.   

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