Bic and Gumby
By Trinie Dalton
June 25, 2014
Little green man stepping in and out of books, you are the best-read clay figure I know. Entering and exiting texts head-first, you know how to act around literature, dancing literally with it in the Kachina ceremony, buying armor from a blacksmith, slender body stiffening in a meat locker while trapped in the robot book. Your band plays benefit concerts to save small farmers losing their lands to the bank. Your dog, crying pearls upon hearing beautiful music, is the moneymaking hero. You are an anti-corporate antiquarian and a romantic, like George Harrison; lately when I see palm tree trunks swaying in the breeze like giraffe necks, I see your bendy body. Your red horse is grumpy.
Dear Gumby, what kind of pen do you write with? I write with blue Bic, medium point. Bic is ubiquitous, available anywhere in the world. I am writing this till my hand hurts, sliding Bic across the page to make a flat sculpture. I chewed several pen caps in my youth but today pinch their tips and enjoy the faceted tubing that I imagine being smooshed, while still pliable plastic, through hexagonal factory die-cast perforations.
What does it look like when you make love with your blue girl, Goo? Descriptions of elasticity are dirty talk. Does she ravage you with office supplies? Hole-punch you to watch you self-heal, press you for fingerprints, sever appendages with her X-Acto blade to observe your regeneration, earthworm style? I am tempted to hurt you just to witness a miracle.
We shot our way out of that town for a dollar’s worth of steel holes, the cowboy says bitterly in Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch after he’s robbed a bank for sacks of slugs; I bet raw, silty clay feels that way, wending its way through mountainside crevices veined with harder stuff. Gumby, you’re always melting your way out of jams, splattering into walls and recomposing yourself as effortlessly as a man straightening his bow tie, multiplying into five selves like a Hindu god—do you have any tips for a woman who seeks spiritual integration with her surroundings? Mind over matter, Gumby, you embody enlightenment, express ultimate union with your neighbors in the form of rainbow rolls. I try daily to meditate and to believe what gurus say, that we each contain the universe; falling asleep to your cartoons at night is my way of praying. But I can’t feel it yet. I feel like bamboo shoots being munched by a panda, like a lamprey has latched onto me, and I wonder how you clear that plasticine brain of yours, keep your thought-herd from over-grazing the self-reflection pasture? Tell me the truth: are you high all the time?
Trinie Dalton is author/editor of six books, most recently Baby Geisha (Two Dollar Radio). She is Faculty Director of the MFA in Writing and Publishing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and is also on the MFA in Writing Low-Residency faculty there. You can find her at: