I don't know if I was a weird child, but I always wanted the Coyote to catch the Road Runner. At least one time. I felt bad for Wile E. every time he fell into a canyon or got blown up or run over by a truck. I think, in some way, I connected with his obsession. I understood wanting unattainable things. I wanted to travel to Skull Island and see King Kong. Climb aboard the Millenium Falcon and jump to hyperspace. Spend some time in school detention with Molly Ringwald.
Yes, all good fantasies. Yet, there was always that Wile E. Coyote moment: running off the cliff, pumping legs, freezing in mid-air, looking down, and understanding the physics of disappointment. That's a lesson I learned from watching Loony Tunes.
And that's what Nick Flynn is writing about in today's poem.
Now, if you'll excuse Saint Marty. He has some cliffs to run off today.
Cartoon Physics, part 1
by: Nick Flynn
Children under, say, ten, shouldn't know
that the universe is ever-expanding,
inexorably pushing into the vacuum, galaxies
swallowed by galaxies, whole
solar systems collapsing, all of it
acted out in silence. At ten we are still learning
the rules of cartoon animation,
that if a man draws a door on a rock
only he can pass through it.
Anyone else who tries
will crash into the rock. Ten-year-olds
should stick with burning houses, car wrecks,
ships going down—earthbound, tangible
where they can be heroes. You can run
back into a burning house, sinking ships
have lifeboats, the trucks will come
with their ladders, if you jump
you will be saved. A child
places her hand on the roof of a schoolbus,
& drives across a city of sand. She knows
the exact spot it will skid, at which point
the bridge will give, who will swim to safety
& who will be pulled under by sharks. She will learn
that if a man runs off the edge of a cliff
he will not fall
|Who says cartoons aren't educational?|