The Poetry of Joyce Polk Brown

Joyce Polk Brown was a lovely girl with a beautiful spirit. I love this poem she wrote in the Creative Writing class not long before she left for Guyana with many other Opportunity II students.

How do you get
From the ghetto to the sparrow
How in the corner of a ghetto
A sparrow grows lips,
And remembers how to sing

This one by Joyce is modeled after a poem by Joyce Carol Thomas. Both poems were published in the Opportunity poetry anthology, “In Small Dreams,” on file at the California Historical Society.

Paint me with my head up looking proud
Paint me with a big happy smile on my face.
Paint me with beautiful colored beads,
With my hair corn-rolled in an African style.
Paint me with the animals of the jungle,
Like a colorful bird and a brown soft
Monkey jumping tree to tree.
Paint me with all the nationalities of people.
Paint me with a gorgeous colored dress…
Paint me beautiful.

Submitted by Judy Bebelaar