Saturday, April 30, 2016

Poetic Influences -- Nick Flynn

I remember seeing this poem in an anthology and being very excited about it.  Here was a poet who used cartoons as a metaphor for death.  This is stuff I wanted to be doing.  I looked for his book "Some Ether" soon after and it became one of my prized books (like around the same time I was starting to dig Broken Social Scene, Stars, etc.)  Although my tastes have changed a little, I still see Flynn's work as something that helped initiate me into the world of poetry.   
Cartoon Physics, part 1

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.

"Cartoon Physics, part 1" by Nick Flynn from Some Ether. Copyright 2000 by Nick Flynn. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.
Source: Some Ether (Graywolf Press, 2000)

No comments:

Post a Comment