How the News Comes

November 1, 2001
Volume 18, Issue 11

How the News Comes - Poetry of the Times

It can come with a doctor's steady stare
or words blunt as a headstone.
The news is published in lab reports,
breaks when old men stand
and femurs crack like branches in ice storms.
Headlines are written by fingers on a lump,
by eyes reporting shapes in an X-ray shadow,
and with stained sentences of cells on slides.
Sometimes it comes on fruity breath,
jaundiced skin, or sheets soaked
with banners of bright red blood.
We read it when a priest appears
and the nurse leaves, when a wife begs
her wasted husband to eat, when friends stop
calling and children run away.
Most days, news rants loud and public
as a tuned-out politician,
but if we have the courage to look,
it is broadcast from every face,
a black script all reporters know
by heart.