A folded roll of this sheets. Dirty white imprinted with black text and colored photos. Very large sheets of newsprint, stacked and folded. Front page. Four rectangles of blue. 1: a cartoon sun partially obscured by cloud. Large sentence fragments compete. 2. A tractor beneath a sky. Caption underneath. 3. "Tuesday." The most prominent text top center. 4. Person with flag, sky, sunshine. Six vertical rectangles intersect horizontal lines. Blocks of text divided into columns, shorter lines increase readability, decrease continuity. Stories flow beneath their headlines and disappear underground to reemerge on A-8. A-8: an orange and yellow map of the United States. Three colored squares inscribed with symbols of colored weather. Peanuts: three frames, red green blue. Charlie Brown, Lucy, baseball, comic timing, innocent sarcasm, wide openings for mouths, sans lips. Shorted headlines, smaller fonts, continued from A-1. It smells like soap, ink, tile, sweat, cigarettes, gasoline, plutonium, and dead trees. It smells like a bad day at the office. It makes a harsh rustling like the crackling of fire. Each page unleashes a bland scream when pried open. They are thin, crisp, dead. It feels like the last word. It softens to burlap when crumpled, at first a jagged ball of paper blades but eventually a furry creature purring in your hand. It tastes like memories, although it is not. Pulp slimy to the tongue.
This paper was the last one in the machine outside the Industrial Prole Diner. It was put into the machine by a man who everyday drives a truckfull of stacks of papers. The papers are stacked in precise quantities, wrapped in plastic, and bound tightly with a strong strip of plastic. Each stack is topped with a computer-printed form describing how many are in the stack and where the stack is to be delivered and whether any supplies such as a box of 1000 rubber bands or 100 slippery orange plastic bags for rainy days need to be delivered with the stack. It takes a number of people to program the computer and another number of people to maintain its databases, keeping track of how many routes, how many papers per route, how many newspaper machines. The billing and so forth is done by another number of people in a different building working more regular hours and being paid more. Each day, sometimes at three or four in the morning, a tired and antiquated printer prints out the sheets. A group of people separates them by tearing along the perforations between their pages. Other people stack the proper number of papers, put the sheet on top, wrap them in plastic, and bind them with a cord. They are then loaded onto the delivery trucks, in a particular order so that the first stops on the route are loaded in last. Before this they have been printed by twelve or so people running the press in a deafening, grimy, windowless space. Before that they are all laid out on computers. The text is typed in, set in columns, proofread, ads are placed, cartoons are positioned, font sizes checked and rechecked, dictionaries and other texts consulted by way of fact-checking. This is after editors make decisions concerning content and layout, turning away many stories, making drastic cuts in others. The stories are all written by chimpanzees in a giant room full of typewriters. They chew on bananas, jump up and down, scream and fling excrement.
C. personal narrative
All afternoon I sat on my couch with La Maga and stared at the trees and cursed at people I knew. Inside my abdomen, my stomach twitched and lashed its barbed tail, snarling. A trickle of coffee sedated it. She had offered me breakfast, but as I opened my mouth to accept it, my stomach dug its claws in so deeply, growling, that all I could do was grimace and wave the bagel away with its succulent frosting of generic cream cheese. By five I knew I must leave or go mad. I remembered that the sweet boss at my easy bookstore job, with some diligence, wrote me a check every Monday. It was Tuesday. I rode there, tearing down the middle of Wright street, sending cars off the road. The store was packed with unfamiliar freaks. I found my check, contemplated its numbers briefly, and scanned the stack of incoming books for anything I might die for. Ideology and Utopia by Mannheim. I left. I rode to the bank and passed through a cloud of sexual tension somewhere on Green street. I went inside the bank, greeted the woman whose job it is to say hello, and wrote out a form in order to deposit a sliver of my tiny check into my tragic, malfunctioning checking account. Despite what biographers will tell you, starving does not improve anybody's writing. Chicken Tenders and a Pepsi. I do not believe I eat this way. At the machine outside I bought the last paper, even though I could have taken one from the restaurant.
It is now to my immediate right on a table. I cannot read it. Nor, obviously, do I need to.
Where is the story about the three astronauts today. I go through A1 through 8. Nothing. What? How can this be? There are three astronauts in space trying to repair the damaged space station that is sustaining their lives and this newspaper is pretending like that isn't going on? What about section B? Hm? Jimmy Steward died, but of old age on earth. Nothing, not in section C either. I break out in a sweat. Perhaps the astronauts have all died and are thus yesterday's news. Nobody knows how they decide what constitutes news. There may be people who think that these basically fine astronauts are receiving enough attention from their multimilliondollar government space program and are not newsworthy. Perhaps again there are people who think that the space program itself serves to distract the public from more deadly serious news. But not me. As I reach for section D I knock my coffee off the tabletop. It hangs suspended beside the desk, a large undulating globule of coffee emerging from the slowly spinning cup.Section D, right next to the excavation of Che Guevara, there they are. Gyroscopes shut down for the second time in 2 weeks. Oh, dear. But why isn't this on the front page with the important story about the parade and the solar car? Why is it all the way in the back with Che Guevara and ISRAELI TROOPS ARREST PALESTINIANS. I mean, this MIR thing, this is the story. These three men are still alive and we even know their names. At least the name of the American.
Newspoetry at Spineless Books