Joy Harjo

BooksFebruary 21, 2020

The Friday Poem: The Fight by Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo

A poem by US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.

The Fight

The rising sun paints the feet
of night-crawling enemies.
And they scatter into the burning hills.
I have fought each of them.
I know them by name.
From before I could speak.
I’ve used every weapon.
To make them retreat.
Yet they return every night
If I don’t keep guard
They elbow through openings in faith
Tear the premise of trust
And stick their shields through the doubt of smoke
To challenge me.
I grow tired of the heartache
Of every small and large war
Passed from generation
To generation.
But it is not in me to give up.
I was taught to give honour to the house of the warriors
Which cannot exist without the house of the peacemakers.


This poem originally appeared on Lit Hub, December 2018.

Joy Harjo will be in conversation with Selina Tusitala March on 7 March as part of the 2020 New Zealand Festival of the Arts, launching today. The full Writers programme is available here.

The Friday Poem is edited by Ashleigh Young. Submissions are welcome at

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