Sometimes I Can’t Laugh

“Read today’s New York Times, in print or online….As you read, jot down the words and phrases that make you feel emotion – sadness, anger, outrage, pity, relief, fear. Imagine the people who are affected by these events. Forget the corporations or the bills being passed through the legislature. Focus on the human story.”

-Kim Addonizio, “Ordinary Genius”


Susan Browne wrote a poem using news headlines that is really good but haunting. My poem is based on a news story from the New York Times. I used the last quote of the story as a starting point because it stuck in my head after reading it.



We had been married for ten years

Most good and bad

The birth of each child – good

Holding the tiny, porcelain doll

I loved them

I loved my husband

Ten years capped by ten seconds

and I am left

My three children dressed in black


I will educate them to be for jihad.


My rage does not pass

It consumes and taints

Everything is poisoned

I kiss my children

and threads of rage cling

to their lips

It is my gift to them

To their father


I promise they will be as their father


Bold, strong, handsome

My love and my light

How can I survive without you?

I awake

Drown in sadness

Your absence fills my kitchen

The baby’s cries of hunger

Are also cries for you


to be fighters


They grow each day

more and more like you

In face

And nature

In fate


and to be martyrs.


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