This Health Scare Article from TIME Is Full of Unfortunate Haikus


When a reader sends a particularly poetic message to the Jezebel inbox, some of the writers will notice the message’s linguistic symmetry and gleefully announce, “Haiku!” Truthfully, most of these messages aren’t perfect haikus (or “hokkus” for all those Ezra Pound fascists lurking in the comments), but they are very haiku-like, which is exciting for two very obvious (but not so obvious that I’ll forgo naming them) reasons: 1) even the banal can be made interesting with the right configuration of punctuation and spacing and 2) unintentional poetry immediately neutralizes the gravity of any particular sentiment. Be honest — if someone accidently rhymes something (the paparazzi didn’t follow Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on their diplomatic trip to Benghazi) you’re way more likely to dismiss that person for frivolity.

The inherent frivolity of poetry is what makes this otherwise disposable TIME listicle about men’s health so heartbreakingly ridiculous. “7 Weird Signs of Health Trouble” should be a semi-serious bit of health journalism scare mongering in the proud tradition of local news reports about arsenic-laced discount cereals and impending blizzards, but it manages to undermine its authority through an unfortunate series of introductory imperatives.

Observe what happens to the first health tip:

Check Your: Fingernails
For: Lupus.

Fingernail discoloration, you see, could be a clue that one has lupus. It’s a legitimate fact made absurd by colons and a simple line break. “Check your fingernails for lupus!” sounds like the beginning of a Weird Al song. Actually, all of these tips, taken together, could flesh out one verse of a Weird Al accordion song about hypochondria:

Check Your: Hairline
For: Thyroid disease.
Check Your: Reflection
For: Heart attack.
Check Your: Breath
For: Erectile dysfunction.
Check Your: Eyes
For: Cognitive decline.
Check Your: Hearing
For: Diabetes.

There are endless couplings, which means that this TIME may have unwittingly spawned a new poetic form. Try it out yourself — it’s super fun.

Check Your: Belly Button

For: Knives

Check Your: Eyelashes

For: Smaller knives

Check Your: Nipples

For: Mites

Check Your: Ankles

For: Broken Ankles

Go on — you get the idea.

Image via Getty

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