Brief History of Sorrow

by | Sep 3, 2013 | Poetry

Sorrow is the gift

God gives to teach us

what won’t last,

what will fall and be left

on the side of the road

by the mother lost

among refugees.


Sorrow teaches her

the value of screaming.


It will last longer

than bronze shoes,

longer than her baby’s



Nothing else she loved

is left. The home in Poland

God bestowed? The husband

whose love was worth so much?

The baby?


The gift of everything is lost,

the way a penny is lost

in the dirt around her.


All that’s left

is the road she stands on—

that and the sorrow

He bestowed, the scream

that ends in screaming.






Photo by bourgeoisbee

About The Author

John Guzlowski

John Guzlowski’s writing appears in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, Rattle, Ontario Review, North American Review, Salon.Com, Atlanta Review, and many other print and online journals here and abroad.  His poems and personal essays about his parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany and refugees making a life for themselves in Chicago appear in his prose and poetry memoir, Echoes of Tattered Tongues (Aquila Polonica Press). Road of Bones, his novel about two German lovers separated by war, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press.  Of Guzlowski’s writing, Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz said, “He has an astonishing ability for grasping reality.”