The Names of Joy



In the introduction to an interview with poet, Ross Gay, Krista Tippett of On Being says:


"To be with him is to train your gaze to see what’s terrible but also to see what’s wonderful and beautiful.
To attend to and meditate on what you love, even within the work of justice.
We practice tenderness and mercy in part because understanding that we are all suffering is one quality of what Ross Gay calls “adult joy."

When I read Ross Gay's poetry, I feel like we're at the beginning of a conversation that I would like to continue.


Sorrow Is Not My Name

by Ross Gay


No matter the pull toward brink. No

matter the florid, deep sleep awaits.

There is a time for everything. Look,

just this morning a vulture

nodded his red, grizzled head at me,

and I looked at him, admiring

the sickle of his beak.

Then the wind kicked up, and,

after arranging that good suit of feathers

he up and took off.

Just like that. And to boot,

there are, on this planet alone, something like two

million naturally occurring sweet things,

some with names so generous as to kick

the steel from my knees: agave, persimmon,

stick ball, the purple okra I bought for two bucks

at the market. Think of that. The long night,

the skeleton in the mirror, the man behind me

on the bus taking notes, yeah, yeah.

But look; my niece is running through a field

calling my name. My neighbor sings like an angel

and at the end of my block is a basketball court.

I remember. My color's green. I'm spring.


- Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash