Finding joy without even lookin’ for it

You know those days when everywhere you turn the same idea confronts you, breathes itself into your ear, blares out from the television set, slides into your mailbox uninvited? It could be honeycomb. Prairie crocus. Pomegranates all night long. It could be “Oh my godde!”

One of my rules is, when I bump up against an idea three times before I’ve even had breakfast, I damn well better pay attention.

Today’s idea: joy.

Some of the ways joy rapped my windowpane this morning were predictable, which is to say it happens every day. (How blessed am I to live in a house where looking out any window ignites joy?)

One of the ways joy wagged its finger was mundane, which is to say it came in a video featuring Matthew McConaughey of all people, which I normally wouldn’t have watched because the guy holds zero appeal for me, but a friend said its message was on point so I clicked.

But the most delectable way joy tickled my tongue was when I picked up the Summer Grain from the kitchen table, aiming only to fill a few minutes before pressing my coffee. I opened to a random page and found a writer I had never heard of before, and now I want to read every word Beth Goobie ever wrote, not only because she’s original and her poems tell stories that pull you straight in, but because she’s kind of quirky and her books empower young people and she understands the concept of parallel lives (there’s a story there only my sister Becky could tell).

More joy: When I googled Beth Goobie to find out who in the world this joyous, flustered, spinster poet is who sees death as a pear and renamed herself Nasturtium because she doesn’t behave well in a bouquet, I landed on a review by Amy Mathers on Amy’s Marathon of Books. If you want to feel joy, here’s Amy’s story.

But then, this:


You know how potential kisses the present tense
when you’re lookin’ for joy,
how your soul shakes its tambourine?
Love keeps coming back to me—
invisible hands beat rhythms into the air,
prisms glimmer in the smiles of strangers,
inviting new colours. In the beginning
was no big bang, it was a chuckle,
giggling our way toward incarnation.
If we could hold up our palms
and see the fun written into our lifelines,
ready to let loose into our skin,
syncopate heartbeat. Yes, death is coming,
death is good, teaches we do not own breathing,
we share breath with those who follow.
Until death celebrates the way meaning
tapdanced the years of my flesh,
keep those choirs singing out of sidewalk cracks,
stomp your galoshes through the puddle of my name.

Beth Goobie

Photo by Rupert Britton on Unsplash

Treat yourself to three more of Beth Goobie’s poems—Fluster Me, Spinster Power, and Death is a Pear—plus 123 additional pages of eclectic writing. Click here to order the Summer 2019 issue of Grain.

2 Responses to “Finding joy without even lookin’ for it”

  1. carin

    I love the magic you describe! And your links are the best. Will look up Beth Goobie’s work… the titles alone that you mention are delicious.


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