A Day Three Story

We interrupt all our standard broadcasts
to bring news of a senseless attack.

Police are keeping the media back
from the scene where many innocents died

but there are reports that a beardless youth
with ancient eyes detonated a bomb...

About the poem

This sequence appeared on the Dodging the Rain site in October 2019.

I usually write about my inspiration, but this was a poem born more of fury and frustration than pure inspiration. The sequence title came from an article about mass atrocities and terrorism; on the third day of the news cycle, it frequently emerges that the perpetrators’ partners suffered from domestic abuse. In America, this is referenced as a “day three story”, a sad fact that highlights both the frequency and the fact that it’s rarely the most sensational of headlines.

After reading the story, I started thinking about Cassandra, who had the ability to see the future but was doomed not to be believed. I thought about how the bodies of women suffering domestic abuse are all Cassandra’s body – warning of something worse to come and yet rarely believed. The sequence considers the complicity of society and the media in ignoring domestic abuse and placing the blame for mass atrocities on terrorised women. 

I used the structure of a play to suggest how this story plays out, again and again, with little changed at the end. The mythological element also suggests the cyclical nature of this circumstance and also hints at how the media mythologises circumstances without looking closer at the situation. 

I can recommend the Joan Smith book Home Grown, which takes a closer look at the links between domestic violence and terrorism. This is a circumstance that we cannot look away from, and I was compelled to write the poems for this reason. Women are bearing the brunt of violence in society and we cannot ignore it.