Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spitwads - Michael McFee

Little paper cuds we made
by ripping the corners or edges
from homework and class notes
then ruminating them into balls
we'd flick from our fingertips
or catapult with pencils
or (sometimes after lunch)
launch through striped straws
like deadly projectiles
towards the necks of enemies
and any other target where they'd
stick with the tiniest splat,
I hope you're still there,
stuck to unreachable ceilings
like the beginnings of nests
by generations of wasps
too ignorant to finish them
or under desktops with blunt
stalactites of chewing gum,
little white words we learned
to shape and hold in our mouths
while waiting to let them fly,
our most tenacious utterance.

Here's my reading!

A charming account of classroom tomfoolery, this poem's larger thrust seems to me to be that as we grow up, we hope that there is still some childishness within us, and certainly hope that it exists in the young people of the world.  The author's hope that the spitwads are "still there" like the "stalactites of chewing gum" under a desk is the hope that we never become too serious.

I don't have much to say, really.  It's a light and fun poem, with just a hint of serious expression.  The images are familiar and fun to say, and its lack of caesura or punctuation conjure an atmosphere of nervous excitement, akin to the feeling of getting ready to let your spitwad fly at one's "most tenacious utterance."  It's the knowledge that right now, your friend is not expecting an attack, but in one moment, they'll be pulling your spit and paper out of their ear.  It's a childish sentiment and it's reflected well in the structure of the poem.

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