Sistah Joy

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This Freedom Thing  (…for Harriet)

There are some that will know you
Only through the woeful echoes of ancestors
Unripened dreams turned work song
Pain-birthed melodies from slaves
Whose souls uttered unlettered words
Of courage and resolve
It is for them that I lift prayer
For them, who sifted sorrow from spirit

While searching for signs of the familiar
They who bid me, even now, to sing their song
Of loss and pain in verse made plain
They plead me to release it to the universe
Shout it from faith’s highpoint of hope
They say, steal away
Search out this freedom thing
Hold it dear
Keep it safe
Grow it from whisper to shout song
Then hand it down

Tender and prideful to the young ones
So I hold fast to the thing
So many knew they’d never know
It is for them that I write
For them that I strive
To create beauty from tears

© 2014 J. Joy “Sistah Joy” Matthews Alford

J. Joy Matthews Alford, known in poetry circles as “Sistah Joy”, is a native Washingtonian and the author of 3 books, “Lord I’m Dancin’ As Fast As I Can”; “From Pain To Empowerment – The Fabric of My Being”; and “This Garden Called Life.” Founder of the poetry group, Collective Voices, she received the Poet Laureate’s Special Award (2002) for her (and her group’s) contributions to the art of poetry in Washington, DC, for the annual presentation of Poetry Extravaganza, a free literary tribute honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She co-produces and hosts Sojourn with Words, a poetry based cable TV show now in its 7th year. She helped establish and, for the past 11 years, has served as president of the Poetry Ministry at Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, MD. She also hosts a free monthly poetry open mic series at Annie’s Art Gallery in Camp Springs, MD. Sistah Joy may be contacted at

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