OPTIMISM by Chris Banks

Some days you forget despair’s tractor-pull

long enough to see some little boy go

vroom vroom with a toy car. Joy is

invisible, everywhere, like microplastics

in drinking water. Sure, children are

in concentration camps, the rivers are

polluted, a work colleague gets some

horrible disease, but joy’s rumble is felt

beneath what is rotten. Why is there

no god of Optimism? Ancient rites

of happiness? That we are mostly quarks

and water, but still feel joy is a bonafide

miracle. Blood hymns in sunshine.

Joy plunges its little dagger of shivers

over and over, into our hearts. Joy is

the surprise, after the surprise, after

apocalyptic narratives. I’m for joy getting

its own Nobel Prize. Buy the stilettos,

the travertine countertops if it makes

you happy, the antique desks and DJ

equipment while there is time. Look,

I built this joy out of my imagination.

It is full of gold lamé, peacock feathers,

even toy cars. Vroom vroom.

Chris Banks is a Canadian poet and author of five collections of poems. His first full-length collection, Bonfires, was awarded the Jack Chalmers Award for poetry by the Canadian Authors' Association in 2004.

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