Newsprint Past

Junk News Speak

Newsprint Past

There were times and places
when what you purchased
came wrapped in old newspaper
folded as neatly around–let’s say–
your nubby mandarins
as a steam-pressed collar buttoned
over an Adam’s apple,
only tied with a string
and covering everything.

At the end of shopping,
you might carry a stacked jam
like so many ironed shirts
tailored for people with trapezoidal
torsos, or if you lived in Great Britain,
fish and chips.

As you unwrapped
your fine print sacks, sitting at a table bare but for
peel curls, chip chips, you could, between whiffs
of orange or vinegar, peruse
an origami of ads, articles,
the snipped obits of those who some time recently
had died
and the whom they were
survived by,
phrases that kept
you company, quiet companions with interesting
while from outside,
came muted cries–
for those were also times and places
of open windows–not of anguish typically,
or not of extreme anguish–the crows of children
over rules, the hawking
of other vendors,
the banter of true bird, the
hum of machines
on the fly,

sweat nestling at the back
of your neck and inner arms, and,
if you were eating fish and chips,
probably also
your upper lip.

And, believe me, I am not in any way touting
those times –I am pretty sure
that while you were sitting there eating, some woman
in the background
was scrubbing pots, and some person of color
mopping stairs, and while there’s nothing wrong
with pots or stairs, scrubbing  and mopping,
they are not so great
as ultimate options, not to mention the fear stored in
closet shadows,
along with the broom handles, buckets, lye.

I’m just saying that newsprint seems a
helluva lot better to me
than plastic, no matter how
it’s used, and by plastic I don’t just mean
what now wraps all we buy,
but also what we see–that transfixed hair
upon the screen, the fake smiles,
smirks, the scooped pronouncements passing
as some synopsis of
the world’s long day, so much shiny
cheap, thin,
packaging, so much
to throw away.


This isn’t so much a poem as a rant.  I wrote it originally for Mary’s prompt on dVerse Poets to write about news – and am posting it on dVerse’s Open LInk Night

This is an old drawing, but seemed to fit. 

Explore posts in the same categories: news, News Media, poetry, Uncategorized

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12 Comments on “Newsprint Past”

  1. brian miller Says:

    i would think newsprint would be better…at least you would know it got recycled twice…and i find myself reading it more when wrapped around something for some reason…actually we bought a newspaper today for the first time in a long time….used to get fish in it though….

  2. This is just jam-packed with sensory details that, for me, elicit so many memories. And thanks for the suggestion about the bold letters in my acrostic, Karin.

  3. Newspapers found so many uses.. and there are so many other things that changed… I like the detail about noise from inside being heard on the street… a long time since that happened without domestic violence being the root… Liked your thoughts a lot..

  4. bleibalien Says:

    Groovy poetic rant! Haha

  5. This is a real trip. You take our hand with the newspaper story and walk us through past, unfairness, present, plastic reality. Absolutely great!

  6. i liked the part about the folks in the background.. who were not likely of the adult white male privileged persuasion.. particularly back before the PILL and Margaret Singer and all those Civil Rights moves.. that brings us eventually to what we are today.. freer and more in prison all the same….it seems to me too…

    i truly think there is choice that can still be made now.. to make the best of newsprint ways and our new plastic way of efficiency over human being….

    And that choice is ours i guess..

    Ripe for the picking for those who can navigate both newsprint and plastic.. truth….

  7. claudia Says:

    so much to throw away indeed in our fast-paced world… i wonder how people would look if mc donalds started to wrap their burgers in old newspapers… an aunt of mine used newspaper as toiletpaper – and honestly i hated it..

  8. grapeling Says:

    so many tropes now retired, starting with ‘all the news that’s fit to print’. still, a favorite ad shows a dad correcting his wife and young child to quit using paper and use the ipad – then he’s in the loo and out of TP and wife slides the ipad under the door, with a photo of a roll of TP… paper itself will return to its artisan roots, perhaps, as plastic will continue to evolve. as to its metaphoric meanings – well, I suppose those will fade, too. everything does, after all ~

  9. I must say, you “rant” well, weaving history and old views, such as “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” and views on slavery and discrimination, but also on the modern day where some live for the limelight and never touch a dirty plate. Have been following a series on cable set in early 1900’s where privileged and poor and discrimination still exist, and women regardless of stature are still second-class and need kowtow to men. I admire my grandmother’s all the more for living through this era.

  10. Justin Lamb Says:

    It doesn’t seem like a rant in the usual sense, meaning that you get the point across without endlessly griping. You set up your opinion in a laid back yet interesting manner. I like it.

    As far as paper versus plastics and electronics, it’s such a weird transition. On one hand, we’re using less trees\ while on the other hand, we are creating electronics waste that is nearly impossible to safely get rid of as well as continuing to use oil to make all the plastic. I’m not sure that the benefits of “going green” always outweigh the downsides.

  11. Justin Lamb Says:

    Also, the intangible things that you refer to as plastic–fake smiles, phony news–are equally disturbing. Thanks for writing something that makes me think.

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