i eat cheesesteak in a box Chevy to say thank you to black people in urban centers who save America even though America continues to want them dead

joy arrives and
departs like hummingbird,
in short,
rapid bursts. duration,
a meager measure 
of delight.

you get in your car after walking 
back from the store. 
your upbringing mandates
you park near oceans 
away from any desired
entrance; save proximity 
for those who suffer on 
shaky legs. the short walk 
in the long cold, arrives you 
to your car singing in frost. 
you start the car and turn 
the heat up, a few minutes and
revolutions per later, a pinprick
of joy. 
in this case, more
of a thumbprint, as heat escapes 
from engine to vent to pore. 
doesn’t that feel good? warmth 
on singing skin? isn’t this 
or maybe you don’t
have a car and you have to walk
to the store from an even further ocean 
away. but you have 
woolen socks and pants, 
a long sleeve shirt, even 
a coat filled with insulation! 
if you have a hood in which to 
burrow, and your shoes still maintain 
traction, well, you have
a short yelp of joy. feel 
your legs under your torso, 
your head atop it all. look 
at that view! your body is 
encased in protective layers!

ok, now remember how 
you screamed at your
remember the guilt or shame or 
piggish righteousness you 
felt? where’s 
the joy in that? 

while hot shower provides 
quick calm, you begin
to sing. your throat, 
rasp’d and husk’d, what 
with all that screaming 
you did. and in this wavering
wake, the postscript 
to your joyless rage, you find yourself
in brief possession of 
a singing voice 
you’ve never had, the smokey erotic
voice of Memphis and Chicago and 
rocking chair’d porch. less grandma 
and more .44 in a shoulder holster. 
is this not joy? 
to open your ragged 
throat, and let it 
sing the blues? 

Published by Zak

an intertidal island in an ocean of impermanence.

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