Margaret DeRitter
Dateline Kalamazoo

For eighty-six years the Gazette stood granite-solid
at Burdick and Lovell. Now it’s moving to a storefront
on the mall. Seventy journalists are down to nine,
though some may be rehired by a renamed,
revamped company that gives out news for free.

A new press pumped out its first edition
just eight years ago, rollers whirring,
paper spinning, folders folding, clips grabbing
each section, winders whipping pages
onto giant spools that would later unwind
them into News and Sports before they flew
out the door to pickups, vans and beat-up old cars.

We were an army then — carriers, accountants,
sales crew, artists, designers, editors, reporters,
the lady on the phone with a real live voice.
We called the new section Today, with no clue
about tomorrow. We even threw a party
with tours and punch and praises for the pretty
clock tower high above the press.

One day we surrounded our three-story beast
by the hundreds, climbing its metal stairs
like kids up a slide, lining its skinny catwalks,
jostling for spots amid paper and ink.
We were Newspaper of the Year.
The photo looked like a celebration
but layoffs crouched in the corner.

Consolidation with Grand Rapids had already
begun: accounting first, then ad creation,
classifieds, copy editing, printing. The paper rolls off
another press now, at midnight, sixty miles away,
the promise of a high-speed German machine
never to be realized in this city of The Promise.
Its hulking silhouette lies still behind glass.