People & Places

YWP: ‘The Laughing Man’

Young Writers Project, an independent nonprofit based in Burlington, engages young people to write and use digital media to express themselves with clarity and power, and to gain confidence and skills for school, the workplace and life.

Check out the most recent issue of The Voice, Young Writers Project’s monthly digital magazine. Click here.

Each week, VTDigger features a writing submission – an essay, poem, fiction or nonfiction – accompanied by a photo or illustration from Young Writers Project.

YWP publishes about 1,000 students’ work each year here, in newspapers across Vermont, on Vermont Public Radio and in YWP’s monthly digital magazine, The Voice. Since 2006, it has offered young people a place to write, share their photos, art, audio and video, and to explore and connect online at For more information, please contact Susan Reid at [email protected].

Photo by Kendall Muzzy of Shelburne/YWP Photo Library

Mackenzie Marcus, 14, of Shelburne, says her inspiration for this piece came on a summer’s day by Lake Champlain. “The day I wrote this piece I had gone down to the waterfront to watch the Dragonboats race, and that’s when I just had a vision in mind. As soon as I got home and logged onto, I found the ‘laughter’ prompt and I knew just what to write about.”

The Laughing Man

By Mackenzie Marcus

Click below to hear Mackenzie read her work.

I walk down the street.
It’s mid-morning.
The sun is out.
The dew is glowing.
And my face is probably burning.
I slip on my sunglasses and see
the world through a different lens,
As I turn the corner I almost run over two girls.
They both have ice cream in their hands.
They both have pigtails.
They both are living life to the fullest,
and they’re both laughing.
As I continue walking,
I watch as a woman walking dogs
starts laughing at the conversation on her phone.
Her laugh gives me hope.
I’m tired at this point and
decide it’s time for a little rest.
I find a bench and sit down next to an old man.
He’s reading the newspaper.
So I pull out my phone to
check for missed messages when all of a
sudden, the man bursts into a bubble of laughter.
So I laugh too.
You only live once, right?
I’ve got nothing to lose in the moment,
So I just start laughing until my eyes become teary.
As I wipe my eyes,
I watch as the sun sets.
The sky is filled with pinks, oranges, and purples.
It’s the perfect moment,
the perfect moment to move on,
on to the next thing,
on to the next laughing man.

If you read us, please support us.

Comment Policy requires that all commenters identify themselves by their authentic first and last names. Initials, pseudonyms or screen names are not permissible.

No personal harrassment, abuse, or hate speech is permitted. Comments should be 1000 characters or fewer.

We moderate every comment. Please go to our FAQ for the full policy.

VTD Editor

Recent Stories

Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "YWP: ‘The Laughing Man’"