Cartoon Physics Pt. 1

By Nick Flynn

Nick Flynn

Flynn has written many poetry books, The Reenactments, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City(edgy right?), The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands, The Ticking is the Bomb, and Some Ether. The ticking is the bomb has been praised by Los Angles Times as a "disquieting masterpiece". He has received fellowship from the Library of Congress as well as the Gunggenheim Foundation
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The Poem

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,
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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.
Nick Flynn: Cartoon Physics, Part 1 (from Some Ether)
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.
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Theme

This poem talks a lot about the innocence of childhood. How children have a world of imagination where anything can be possible. To a child the world is an open book in which they can do as they please , yet as we age we lose this sense of imagination and wonder of the world. Instead we get caught up in reality and the complexities of existence rather than seeing the world as a happy place of wonder and love.

Interpretation

The start of the poem talks about how as we are younger, we aren't concerned with the complexities and complications of life. We don't try to find a idiotic deeper meaning in everything (kinda like what we've being doing this whole unit), rather we accept what it is and live with it. A child will keep in their head that no matter how bleak a situation, they can still come out on top and a hero. They have a sense of optimism that even at our young age of 15/16 we seem to be lacking. A child will stay happy and try to look at the bright side rather than wallow in self pity and defeat. The last line about falling off a cliff is truly striking, saying that somehow despite an adult having years of experience on a child, They are still as naive if not more so than a child.
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