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BooksJanuary 10, 2020

The Friday Poem: Anecdotal happiness by Laura Vincent

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A new poem by Wellington writer Laura Vincent.


Anecdotal happiness


There was a story on the six o’clock news

“Scientists have discovered

that only bad things are happening now

It seems nothing good will happen on a grand scale

ever again”

In their carefully region-free accent the newsreader continued:

“Experts are still working out what to attribute this to, with some blaming the economy and others concluding that it’s actually always been like this, and we just never noticed.

The scientists are clear on one thing: positive events have now been reduced to the anecdotal level only. There is no more global good news.”

The newsreader looked directly to camera –

“The best you can hope for now is to hear that your mate Jarrod won moderately big on the horses.”

Weeks passed, and sure enough the scientists were right.

The upside was that people started to really value the happiness of their fellow humans, and no longer saw others’ achievements as diminishing those of their own.

The downside was that everything was shit

Sensing a strong need for balance from their audience, the newsreaders started reporting on anecdotal good news in between stories of corruption and disaster and general decline

You’d turn on the TV to hear them talk about how Trev and Jonah from Hastings had a bumper tomato crop this season

and in that moment it felt like we were all enjoying Trev and Jonah’s ripe bounty

Our empathy grew as we wallowed in each other’s mild victories

We connected with those we hadn’t talked to for years, desperate for granules of positivity to sweeten our terrible days

Maybe it had been like this all along

But now it felt more urgent

Everything felt more urgent

You’d pass a stranger in the street and they’d stop you, walking right up and grabbing you by the collar with both hands

“I found twenty cents on the ground just now,” they’d say

And you pull down your gas mask, eyes watering from the joy and the smoke

“You little beauty,” you reply


The Friday Poem is edited by Ashleigh Young. Submissions are welcome at

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