Oh… a Clark’s Nuthatch!
Oh… a Clark’s Nuthatch!" MakiEni / GETTY IMAGES

I've always resented the call for good news. People write about "good news" all the time. And the whole point of the news is to call power to account. When we do that, the account is often bad. That's not the news' fault. That's power's fault.

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At the same time, I understand that reading a cascade of stories about murder, death, rank stupidity, corruption, and disenfranchisement does take an emotional toll on readers. And yet, imagine the toll it takes on the disenfranchised and survivors! The poet Michael Earl Craig does a very good, extremely weird job of capturing this complex feeling in, "The Evening News," which you can read at Bomb and find in his book, Thin Kimono, available at local bookstores.

A few notes:

• The genius of the humor here is the speaker's calm demeanor in the face of this hailstorm of birds. He achieves this largely through deflation. He lingers on the details of the birds smashing into his house—"They are bluebirds, mostly. / And a few robins. /Oh… a Clark’s Nuthatch!" And he keeps calling attention to the difference between his interior world and the world outside: "I am sitting in my chair," he says, after having already mentioned that fact. "It is 7:10 in the morning, the teakettle beginning to rumble." The moves here point to the disorienting reality so many of us experience—when we read the news of terrible, world-ending shit happening, we're often doing so from the comfort a nice chair.

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• Right now I am sitting in a chair and cackling at these lines:

A bombardment of owls comes in,
just beating the shit out of the roof.
Then a couple sandhill cranes.
Then probably a steady half hour’s worth
of bald eagles, each one hitting the house
with the thud of a baseball bat,
one after another, sometimes two at a time...

• If people die miserably from failing to find the news in poetry, Craig argues at the end of this poem that people also die from failing to find the news in the news. While most of us have taken heed recently, some of us certainly have not. Looks like we're going to have to keep reading the news, folks.