The Prose Poems and The War

In Citizen Kane, there is a wonderful, breathlessly paced little moment when young newspaper publisher Charles Foster Kane is confronted with a wire from a reporter concerning a war the reporter was sent by Kane to hype for the paper’s readership:


Read the cable.


“Girls delightful in Cuba. Stop. Could send you prose poems about the scenery, but don’t feel right spending your money. Stop. There is no war in Cuba, signed Wheeler.” Any answer?


Yes. “Dear Wheeler. You provide the prose poems. I’ll provide the war.”

Today, I saw one of my media pet peeves, a generic picture of two women crying, this time in relation not to a mass shooting, but to a virus outbreak that has proved far less serious than the media has been praying for it to be. Clicking on the link, out of a morbid curiosity, I was directed to an AP article beginning with the following words.

The fraught, freighted number of this particular American moment is a round one brimming with zeroes: 100,000. A hundred thousands. A thousand hundreds. Five thousand score. More than 8,000 dozen. All dead.

This is the week when America’s official coronavirus death toll reaches six digits. One hundred thousand lives wiped out by a disease unknown to science a half a year ago.

Talk about disrespect for the dead! (Not to mention the living who inadvertently find themselves reading such guck.)

And so we return to Citizen Kane.


Read the e-mail.


“Many old people dying during what was their likely final year of life, IMHO. Probably a big percentage of those deaths just deliberate over-reporting caused by CDC death certificate rules for this virus, and a major chunk of the others caused by premature use of ventilators and sedation on patients who would have faired better if allowed to fight the chest congestion naturally and awake, FYI. Could get my ten-year-old daughter to write a bunch of sentimental BS about how much we love old people, but don’t feel right using hype and pap to sell ads. LOL. There is no society-paralyzing crisis here. Wheeler.” Any reply?


Yes. “Yo Wheeler, you provide your daughter’s sentimental BS. Our progressive friends in the government will provide the society-paralyzing crisis.”

You may also like...