Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo

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Joy Harjo (/ˈhɑːrdʒoʊ/ HAR-joh; born May 9, 1951) is an American poet, musician, playwright, and author. She is the incumbent United States Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold that honor. She is also only the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to serve three terms.
Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Nation (Este Mvskokvlke) and belongs to Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground)She is an important figure in the second wave of the literary Native American Renaissance of the late 20th centuryShe studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts, completed her undergraduate degree at University of New Mexico in 1976, and earned an MFA at the University of Iowa in its creative writing program.
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We were dreaming on an occupied island at the farthest edge
of a trembling nation when it went down.
Two towers rose up from the east island of commerce and touched
the sky. Men walked on the moon. Oil was sucked dry
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From a story of how the tobacco plant came to our people, told to me by my cousin George Coser Jr.
It was way back, before there was a way back
When time threaded earth and sky.
Children were conceived, were born, grew, and walked tall
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I. She Had Some Horses
She had some horses.
She had horses who were bodies of sand.
She had horses who were maps drawn of blood.
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We watched her grow up.
She was the urgent chirper,
Fledgling flier.
And when spring rolled
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Praise the rain; the seagull dive
The curl of plant, the raven talk—
Praise the hurt, the house slack
The stand of trees, the dignity—
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The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies tee...
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Once the world was perfect, and we were happy in that world.
Then we took it for granted.
Discontent began a small rumble in the earthly mind.
Then Doubt pushed through with its spiked head.
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My house is the red earth; it could be the center of the world. I’ve heard New York, Paris, or Tokyo called the center of the world, but I say it is magnificently humble. You could drive by and miss it. Radio waves can obscure it. Words cannot con...
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for Desiray Kierra Chee
In the last days of the fourth world I wished to make a map for
those who would climb through the hole in the sky.
My only tools were the desires of humans as they emerged
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Invisible fish swim this ghost ocean now described by waves of sand, by water-worn rock. Soon the fish will learn to walk. Then humans will come ashore and paint dreams on the dying stone. Then later, much later, the ocean floor will be punctuated...
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At dawn the panther of the heavens peers over the edge of the world.
She hears the stars gossip with the sun, sees the moon washing her lean
darkness with water electrified by prayers. All over the world there are those
who can't sl...
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You can’t begin just anywhere. It’s a wreck.
Shrapnel and the eye
Of a house, a row of houses. There’s a rat scrambling
From light with fleshy trash in its mouth. A baby strapped to its mother’s back
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for Darlene Wind and James Welch
I think of Wind and her wild ways the year we had nothing to lose and lost it anyway in the cursed country of the fox. We still talk about that winter, how the cold froze imaginary buffalo on the stuffed horiz...
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In the United terminal in Chicago at five on a Friday afternoon
The sky is breaking with rain and wind and all the flights
Are delayed forever. We will never get to where we are going
And there’s no way back to where we’ve been.
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To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
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Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story. It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing. If she sees you watching she will invite you in for coffee, give you warm bread, and you will be obligated t...
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