Spoken word: ‘Behind the Lens’ by Eli Roberson

This piece placed second for high school spoken word submissions in the 2023 Ánimo Voices Writing and Art Competition, which invited students to respond to the open prompt “About Joy” The competition is an opportunity to motivate, recognize, and celebrate our strong student voices through writing, spoken word, and art.

Behind the Lens

Click...click... JOY.
Hold on!
Let me get this angle real quick!
I’ve been doing this since I was a kid
“Hey son, let’s go out and take some pics!
I have to interview the mayor,
and he loves the work that you did
HA! All of a sudden I fell in love with it!

Looking into the lens
Zooming in
Zooming into the future
Zooming into the light
Zooming into the cave
Took a picture of the cave
But it came out too dark
Changed the settings
Turned up the lighting
Took it again
I... SEE... MY... JOY!

Driving pass the docks
See a anchor holding down a ship
I take a picture
Because that's how I
was held down
when thoughts was
cluttering my head
I... SEE... MY... JOY!

Sitting at a park
Watching kids put together a puzzle
I take a picture
Because that was me
trying to put my heart back:
Its pieces
I... SEE... MY... JOY!

Sitting on the front porch
At 5:30 PM
Watching the beautiful sunset
Beautiful colors!
I take a picture
Because that's what I saw when I found God
I... SEE... MY... JOY!

Took a picture of the night sky,
It came out blurry.
Took it again,
It came out blurry.
Kept taking it over and over again!
Changed the settings but nothing worked!



Thoughts hit harder than a punch in boxing!
Hit Harder than an earthquake!
Hitting and shaking my mood away!
Just cause its night time negative thoughts start cluttering my head?
Daydreaming so much before I go to bed?
I was just taking pictures of my joy!
But since it's night time
My head starts
Making a bunch of noise!
Was just tryna take a picture of the night sky...
But since it came out blurry...
The dark
You gotta say goodbye!

Woe is a dark place.
Like a house with no windows
Or deep inside the cave
So when I try to go back

To that dark place
Or take a picture
It gets blurry
Blurry like the mirror during a hot shower
I... SEE... MY... JOY!

So pick up your camera
And zoom into things that make you happy!
Like the eyes and smiles of your loved ones
Like a rainbow on a rainy day!

Accomplishing your goals!
Zoom into your future!
Do not zoom into what you left!

Take pictures of your joy!
Edit out your woe
Let go
Turn up the exposure and
Let the joy be exposed!
Black and white pictures
Are meant for stuff in the past.
So black and white your woe
Because it wasn't meant to last.

Saturate your joy
And give the woe a big push!
Now focus on your joy
And keep the woe shushed!
I... SEE... MY... JOY!

Eli Roberson



Eli Roberson

11th Grade, Ánimo Jackie Robinson Charter High School 

Guiding Teacher: Rachel Kopera