Saturday, May 7, 2016

May 7: Bugs Bunny, Nick Flynn, "Cartoon Physics, part 1"

Every Saturday morning when I was a kid, I would watch Bugs Bunny cartoons.  Two hours and a bowl of Lucky Charms.  That was my ritual.  I had every single Looney Tunes cartoon memorized, from Elmer Fudd singing The Barber of Seville to Marvin the Martian talking about his Q-36 Space Modulator.  And of course, there was Wile E. Coyote in his eternal pursuit of the Road Runner.

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

disasters, arenas

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

until he notices his mistake.
Who says cartoons aren't educational?

No comments:

Post a Comment