The Dalai Lama’s Former Printing Concern

You’d like to think that it was all done by stolid, silent monks

Quilling ancient parchment in some great hall,

Stilted shafts of sunlight filtered by primordial dust,

Incense wafting on unseen breezes as only incense can,

Time measured in the tap of finger cymbals, the odd table-top gong,

But the reality was, as reality is wont to be, the very essence of mundane:

An unprepossessing warehouse in a better-days-gone-by northeastern city

(One would have hoped it was Scranton P-A,

The notion of the dunderheads of Dunder-Mifflin

Working cheek and jowl with the purveyors of divine wisdom

Being one of those things which writes itself, but alas)

All high ceilings, fluorescent lighting, owlish men and women

Hunched over not-quite-obsolescent Macs

And squat, square metal cabinets filled to overflow

With sundry clippings and clip-art,

Fighting deadlines and technical demons

In order to have camera-ready copy done in time

To meet the narrow print window of the small newspaper

Which commit these noble teachings to paper

(The pressmen watch them quick-step the plates in,

Bemused to an extent, but a print job is a print job is a print job.)

All of this in the past of course, reality being pedestrian yet inexorable,

The newspaper falling victim to the nuances of readership and ROI,

The improbability of top-line growth, the inevitability of retrenchment,

Its press operations shut down and moved elsewhere,

The old press bay eventually converted to the most micro of micro-business,

A concern selling chocolates and other sweets

(One assumes His Holiness is unaware of such events,

Although you’d hope that he would, upon hearing the tale,

Smile that particular smile, thousand-watt yet somewhat inscrutable,

And golf-clap his hands and chuckle, Sweeeet. Ah, sweet.)


17 thoughts on “The Dalai Lama’s Former Printing Concern

  1. That’s it! I’m listening to the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway again; both albums, all sides, four divisions. I think it was the warehouse and forever ceilings grey and ancestors floating out to sea and becoming stars and that violent sea tunring them into constellations like burial mounds make pitchers Twitchel or maybe it was the sudden urgency to wonder if Lama was Lamia? or maybe it was the chocolate. Whatever it was I liked it.

      1. Some music loses its attack on all my senses, but the Lamb I still sit through, or inevitably stand up through; started again today at lunch right after reading your poem and that In the Cage turned me into air singing with hand gestures as the stalactites come down all around and then I had to go back to work; made the 15 minute ice walk warmer. No lamb, but the moonlight knight from England’s pound on my mp3 and that fat old lady outside the saloon. Gabriel had a good sense of humor too. I remember reading an interview of you somewhere mentioning Suppers Ready?

          1. i wonder if that’s how it felt in Seattle when the pilots arrived; so much euphoria and new Jerusalem boogie only to have it snatched away in the same year, but then again, doesn’t attendance drop downhill after the initial rush anyway?

  2. Could have been written by Peter Osborne Chief Political commentator of once-prestigious Daily Telegraph who resigned today citing total collapse of distance between advertising and political coverage.
    Good stuff.

    1. My contacts in the newspaper industry have told me that the relationship between advertisers and editorial management is like the final sentences of Animal Farm, where man and pig are almost indistinguishable.

  3. Or mini-cupcakes, so banal!
    This is very His Girl Friday, love it.
    As an aside, I don’t mean to be disparaging, but I always felt like to live Scranton (where I was once snowed in, argh) must be the very grey-est existence.

  4. Only you could combine the mundane real world with the spiritual idealism of faith and promise of better things.. even in the face of failure… If the Dalai Lama did not appreciate the irony, who would?

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