A series of "NewsPoems"
Think the Rhubarbs Will Hurt the Reign?
Newspeople endlessly discuss the weather:
"Rodney King enough out for you?"
"Yeh, it's been a real verdicty day.
Haven't seen a verdict like that
since the trial of '89."
"Hope it gets saner out, be nice to have
some sanity for a while."
"Yeh, but a little riot wouldn't hurt.
We haven't had a good riot for months."
"Does it feel like a riot to you?"
"Nope, I don't have that creaking
in my big toe."
The newscaster deals in facts,
but begins with a lie:
"This is the news."
For this is nothing new, cruelty
and nonsense. This is the olds.
Today who went free?
There are many facts. The facts
we have always with us. Today
there are (how many) trees
in New York State and (how many)
new buds. Today (how many) inches
of the West Coast crumbled into the ocean.
Today who went free who had
never before been free?
Today terrorists killed three and prices
went up and 323 bodies were vacated on
holiday highways and there's absolutely
nothing you can do about it, don't
even bother to write suggestions
(to whom?) — when it needs you,
the news will call you.
Today who went free
who had never before been free?
People say, "What's new?" when
they must make talk, but have nothing
to say. The newscaster is paid
to make talk and have nothing to say.
Today what was said that was real
and true and meant something to someone?
There is nothing new under the sun.
The newscaster is under the sun.
Our love is older than the sun,
and always new, but today
it was not on the news.
who went free?
Details at Eleven
After years of TV watching,
we learn that no one dies:
People chatter, move away, fade out,
dissolve and return after
the message from our sponsors.
We grow accustomed to having
people peacefully sitting in chairs
move towards us and away smoothly,
as if on well-oiled casters
(no doubt news casters).
These immortals are too smooth
to admit to being surprised
even by death. When a newscaster dies,
the last words are:
And Now This...
Newscasters are factual men
who know the wisdom of the multitudes
and know how to tell the facts
we want to hear with a slight curve
towards our wanting to hear
the facts in preparation
Newscasters are serious men
with craggy faces and shrewd,
knowledgeable voices, a certain
greyness about the eyes, ulcers
and early death,
often followed shortly
by the body's death.
Your Whole World
This is your daily newspaper--
your whole world is here.
Here are the places in the world
where you can't go because
they are dangerous. Here are the
people who hate you because
you are an American. Here are
the things that will run out or cost
too much for you to have in the
near future (the distant future
has already run out, and you
can't have it). Here are the things
you can get in trouble for. Here
are all the things going wrong
with the world that you can't do
anything about. Probably no one
can do anything about them. Experts
and reliable sources agree that
there are no simple solutions and that
only time will tell. In any case,
it's certain that you
can't do anything about these matters,
but nonetheless, beyond the call
of duty, we keep you well-informed.
("We are now dropping the cyanide
into your cell....") Meanwhile,
if you can afford to drive
your car, there's a good chance
you too will be killed, maimed or sued,
but there's a good chance of it
even if you walk. That's the
sort of world you live in, but
fortunately for you, your friend,
the daily news, is looking out
for you--on the inside pages
our columnists tell you how
to deal with stress (per expert
shrinks with CIA contracts)
and our funny pages bring out
the humorous aspects of the Decline
And Fall of Practically Everything.
We present all reliably authorized
sides of every issue from our
Viewpoint. We let you get a very inside
look at what goes on all over the
world. When you are done reading
the papers, you can extrovert
by inspecting your breasts or rectum
for cancerous growths.
They say, say they,
that newspapers are bad news.
I used to dislike them myself,
something new falling apart bloodiy
morning while GOVERNMENT ECONOMISTS
FORESEE BRIGHT FUTURE
and through a grimy grey window
we can see the spirals dwindle,
see the strange terrestrial forms
molded by pain into critical, serious
and fatal generalities,
but according to Reliable Sources
(would you trust your daughter
with a Reliable Source?), it will all
blow over, but it won't, and the
Incumbent says the End of Everything
is much exaggerated, and an Unnamed
Spokesman for the accused has no statement
at this time.
But lately I gloat over newspapers -
they are so PREDICTABLE! A dirty window
is yet a window, if you can learn
to see around the dirt. There may be
rules to this game, rules we can learn...
and can we win? History's ahead,
aeons to nothing - can we
close the gap?
Thanks to the weatherman with his map,
His numbers, moving arrows and rapid rap,
At last I understand the weather!
Today's rain, for example, is because that big thing from down
below and that big thing from way up there are rubbing
Tomorrow it may rain some more, depending on whether
Those two big things keep rubbing together.
Now that swirly mess is a satellite view of Heaven,
And that's all there is to the weather, but there'll be more at
Indicators Suggest the Sky May Fall Tonight
In A High Wind in Jamaica,
The teen‑aged heroine can take a
Tiny tremor, barely enough to wake a
Child from sleep, and of it make a
Monstrous thing, just by saying "Earthquake!"— a
Talent that would make her a stellar TV Weather Person,
Able to make moderately bad weather worsen
By mentioning possible hurricanes and tornados
That MAY reach us from the Barbados
And MAY "lose some of their strength along the way,"
But we are left with "hurricane" and "may"—
Of which more at eleven and a zillion news flashes
(Interrupting normal programming) — each rehashes
(In urgent tones, along with brief chats with worried
People who have hurried
Out to stock up on water and rolls of Charmin) —
"HURRICANE","MAY", "THREATENS" and other alarmin'
Attention getters. And at eleven
(Outside, a gusty, starless Heaven),
The weather lady talks to a reporter named Chet,
Standing on a corner, who says he's getting wet,
Then to a reportress at a beach ‑‑ her name is Kim —
Her hair blowing at us while we learn there's a slim
Chance that the worst of it will pass us by,
But we should be prepared for the worst. (Why
Don't we just curl up and die?)
Then we hear from Dan,
Who, for some reason, is also standing outside, getting wet, just to tell us that we CAN
Take a few simple measures to increase
The chances that, upon the midnight, we won't cease
To be ("Tell our listeners about that, Dan." "Well, Connie...");
So he talks about floods, candles, full bath tubs — on and on he
Prepares us for the worst that may, though probably reduced
In strength, be, within an hour or two or three, unloosed
Upon us, here on our sofa, watching the television,
Smug about our decision
To stay home tonight — and now let's hear from Marty,
Who seems to be standing in someone's back yard. He
Says it's getting cold,
With, here and there, snow flurries.
This is getting old.
Marty shivers. Marty worries.
Can't they cut this shorter?
I wonder if there's a cameraman and a microphoned reporter
Standing in my back yard right now?
Well, we get a storm. No flying cow
Falls through our roof. For days after, the TV shows
Nothing but fallen trees, as if they'd been flattened in rows
Yet all the trees we see are standing tall.
(Some assistant director forgot to tell them to fall.)
It was no hurricane, but “almost a tropical storm,"
"THE WORST WE'VE HAD IN YEARS," says Norm
To Connie, but somehow hearing how bad it was
Is less impressive, now that it never quite happened, because,
Though we (like the hurricane) lost power
And couldn't watch TV for an hour,
A high wind (here or in Jamaica)
Doth not a hurricane make; nor one snowflake a
O word‑smitten Weather Wizardess!
Good Morning, America
"Well, Connie, the darkness is fading to gauzy gray.
There's no way at this time to be certain, but it does appear that night is giving way to day."
"That's right, Peter, but as you say, there's no way to be sure, and even if daylight wins this round, I don't think we've seen the last of night."
"No, Jane, our day‑and‑night specialists tell us that, as in the past, day and night will probably continue to alternate. But let's visit the scene. We have Doug Innes on site...Doug?...Doug, can you hear me?"
"Yes, Dan, loud and clear."
"How is it out there, Derrick?"
"Well, Tom, the grass and leaves are dripping wet, both bird and traffic noises are clearly on the increase as you can hear...and the eastern horizon has begun to redden..."
"Much like what we observed yesterday and the day before and, actually, on each of the past several days just before the advent of a full and apparently endless day."
"Exactly, Debra, but of course we have no way of knowing if this is just another dawn or some quirk of lighting ‑‑ God, as it were, striking a match to see where he is now."
"Very Poetic, Howard. Thank you. We'll call on you from time to time so you can keep us abreast of further apparent day‑breaking events as they unfold."
Well, Pamela, it does seem that we're about to have another morning and most likely a full day."
"Yes, Walter, it does indeed. I think it helps to look at past developments, which, though they've varied from time to time, do seem to repeat in essential ways."
"They do indeed, Kim, but experts say that many questions remain unanswered, and meanwhile all we can say for certain is that it's wisest to treat each moment of gray or reddish or blinding white light or none at all as just one in an unrolling sequence of events."
"Well put, Mike. One simply never knows. Thank goodness for this artificial lighting and the steady hum of our air‑ conditioning."
"Amen, Trish! On another news front, all along the Eastern Seaboard..."
"...At least, Hugh, the average line where waves tumble and recede has changed remarkably little during recent successions of light and dark..."
"Exactly, Liz. Well, along that front, latest reports indicate that millions of people whose bodies have for hours been stretched out horizontally on beds are now beginning to rise up, first a few, then in large numbers, and, in most cases, to move into their bathrooms. How will this impact...but here's Donna Longway LIVE on the scene to tell us more about it. Donna...?"