The Week the News was put in Prison

20 March 1996

The News would regret the day it ever wrote about a prison system. Its own News was fast becoming far too real. Finding that comet had been a brilliant move that happened too late. Four guards came to arrest The News at midnight. It was submitted to proofreading -- a degrading procedure -- and put in solitary confinement.

21 March 1996

Throughout the day, the other periodicals screamed for matches, cigarettes, toilet paper, sang eery songs, made speeches, and yelled at each other to shut up. The food was a very small black and white photograph of what appeared to be cabbage in cream sauce. The News could not see the comet from within its eight by eleven cell.

22 March 1996

The sewers backed up and the News huddled on its wooden bench trembling watching the excrement wash by across the concrete floor. For the first time it was lead into the general prison population afraid it would be recognized. Gigantic prisoners approached it carrying old newspapers, pointed to graphs of rising crime rates and articles about the need for more prisons, and said "Remember me?"

23 March 1996

The News, dozing in its cell, was beaten with a bag of padlocks and stabbed twice by assailants who held a pillow over its face. The News was taped together without anesthetic and put back in solitary.

24 March 1996

The News could no longer follow the presidential primaries. The News had no idea how the election in Taiwan turned out. The News had a tiny radio for a while and on headsets it could listen to Rush Limbaugh complain about the easy life of prisoners. The batteries slowly died replacing the signal with noise. The excrement scrawled across the cement.

25 March 1996

The day the News was executed I went to reclaim its possessions: which consisted of a single handgun. Back at home I took a screwdriver and removed a panel from its side. Inside was an entire typewriter. An amazing trick of concealment. Its entire week on death row, The News had had a typewriter the whole time, but never used it. It must have had a plan to lower the crime rate, end the death penalty, and rehabilitate prisoners; a plan which it decided not to execute. With the comet nearing perihelion our nights are now bathed in a green glow. This has made the streets safe and reading at night possible.


Newspoetry at Spineless Books