American Life in Poetry: Column 798


How much pain and anger can a good poet pack into just a few words? A lot, in this fifteen-word haiku by Laura Foley from her 2019 collection of poems from Headmistress Press entitled Why I Never Finished My Dissertation, her seventh book. Foley lives in Vermont.

Black Belt

Her husband in a coma,
she in the dojo,
learning to kill with her toes.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2019 by Laura Foley, “Black Belt” from Why I Never Finished My
 (Headmistress Press, 2019). Poem reprinted by permission of Laura Foley and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.