Mourning Song

Harjo, Joy

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Stanford, Ann Folwell
  • Date of entry: Jul-09-1996
  • Last revised: Dec-12-2006


This is a prose poem told in the voice of a homeless person who is battling with grief and loneliness ("the houseguest who eats everything and refuses to leave") and hoping for good weather. The speaker of the poem, while dealing with the heaviness of grief and loneliness, also makes "a song for bad weather so we can stand together under our leaking roof, and make a terrible music with our wise and ragged bones."


In this particular collection, Harjo adds a written narrative/commentary to each poem. In "Mourning Song," she expresses her ambivalence about responding to homeless people, not wanting to enable alcoholism with spare change, but understanding "the need to deaden the pain." The poem and commentary also raise the issue of the political underpinnings of homelessness, and in addition, the possibility that, for some, homelessness might be a choice "to be a modern warrior."


This edition came with a wonderful cassette of Harjo reading many of the poems (and commentaries) in this volume.

Primary Source

The Woman Who Fell From The Sky: Poems


W. W. Norton

Place Published

New York