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Tuesday, March 15, 2016


I can still buy a newspaper
with columns
organized like hot dogs
boiling in a saucepan
side by side in the roiling water
the ink made from soybeans
which will please all the land owners
surrounding this field
neatly plotted with cracking streets
full of speed bumps
with side by side mobile homes
just enough space between
for a little lawn
and a tree or two

That's not news here
in the pre-death zone
for either people saving money
with dirty children boarding
on the pavement trying hard
to miss a canyon which could
send them sprawling
or gray-haired boredom babies
waiting for rebirth
The fifteen mile per hour signs
mean what they say
as if yelling in white and black
were still the fashion
in newspapers
where color now exists
to compete with every screen
old cathode ray tube or light-emitting diode

Newspapers have a hard time
putting video next to the political story
with politicians yelling
even when the video wasn't started

No sir or madam I am not interested
in the price of tea at Walmart
until I'm ready to buy tea at Walmart
which may not be possible
because I have news for everyone
I hate liquids without caffeine
and enough sugar to make a syrup
neither of which I can have
caffeine keeps me awake
while the sugar eats away
at the nerves in my painful feet
the pain moving slowly enough
as if to suggest someone reading
a newspaper slowly and with feeling
the stories appealing broadly
as the papers get narrow
magnifying lenses at the ready
just as another child
finds the cement rising quickly
as bruises lend hues of blue and black
on the screen of the knees
with more than occasional stripes
of red in scrapes and rashes

This is not news where news
does not exist on a daily basis
except where people
filter through doors
or on sidewalks
to get their bills and ads
left by postal workers
who no longer drive
red white and blue mail trucks
wearing sweat-stained blue shirts
dark blue pants
blue on white agency designed eagles
modernized to reflect a new image
of mail speed
full of pizza cookie and chip products
We're far enough out
that our be-jeaned mail person
drives a Jeep
telling me my box number
when I mention my name
Even here numbers loom larger
than dignity

I can still buy a newspaper
but I don't
because Facebook and Google
bring the news and opinion
I need the most
where retirement doesn't need any
and I can print coupons
without clipping with scissors

Good-bye great newspaper writers
good-bye fourth estate and democracy
good-bye sweaty postal worker
I know you pray for electronic pulses
from the next nuclear something
that stops all this nonsense
and we have to return
to the old black and white
where Miss Ella Olson
returned to Windom
to visit her parents for tea
and stay the night
sleeping soundly in a bed
old familiar and covered
in Mrs. Olson's handmade quilts
so colorful as if to blind the dead

Barry G. Wick

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