Yellow Journalism

Shoving through simmering halls of the newspaper office

Joe mutters brief helloes to editors who,

busy conducting the cacophonous symphony of telephones and keyboards,

barely glance up from computers.

"How's the story about that rich geezer's memorial and will going?"

John asked him as he passed by his desk.

"Don't remind me."

Bitter coffee downed in one gulp, he gets to work.

The annual story on the local animal shelter—

500 words by five o'clock.

Computer keys flying,

Fiddling in the chair,

his feet marching along to the staccato cadence of his typing

like a telegram sputtering the latest from the Spanish-American War.

His brain chaotic like an alchemist's apothecary

Hot oil ideas churn in the caldron,

but they congeal before he can stir in the quintessence

which will transmute his lede into gold

The raven-clock caws four-thirty.

Why did I wait until now to start?

His desk conspicuously clear.

Where are my notes?

He dumps out his bag

and sifts through the notes

praying to find some gold—there they are!

At this point his brain and fingers

finally synced and the rest of the story

flowed out of his mind-caldron with mercuric grace.

Just as the minute hand moved to five,

he handed the story into the editor,

who barely read it before signing off on it.

"I'm so fried. I've slept two hours in two days,"

Will apologized, "I'm sure your story's fine."

Joe read the headline the next morning:

"Animal Shelter to Donate Fur Coats to Museum"

Damn. Now I'll have to write the retraction.