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LOONEY TUNES / Michael Pettit "About suffering they were never wrong. . ." —W.H. Auden The bright primary colors of the test-pattern play on his face, cupped in his hands, a white rose offered up to the light. Outside the sun is no more awake than he is, yawning, sleep still in his eyes as he sits watching, cross-legged, three feet from the screen. But watch him come alive, fidget and twitch, his soft feet wriggling in the flannel feet of his PJ's, sugar from his Trix speeding through his veins, high-pitched whine of the TV singing to his nerves. He can't wait, can't stand what is static— all that lacks animation, does not breathe, move, struggle, all in which the fury of life is too slow to be seen. 2 Ah Bugs, wise-ass rabbit, he watches you, thrilled by your style, the way you escape disaster and leisurely chew a carrot as you deliver the wicked and just reward. Such wit in one with a furry tail and long ears, walking upright! And he listens to the smart-mouth duck, the stuttering pig, squabbling dogs and cats, mouse in the walls, bird in his cage, roadrunner running 78 ¦ The Missouri Review the coyote ragged across the desert. Animals, Bugs, animals and the fall of man. You slip the dynamite back to the little man with red mustaches, blow him sky high and he falls. The famished coyote, too sly for his own good, is always falling: he rockets or runs off a cliff into thin air. When the slender branch that saves him tears loose at the roots, it's the long fall, the whistling fall toward the canyon floor. Impact sends up a doughnut of dust we watch from above. And of course like the coyote he wanders away from the screen— hungry, Bugs, and in for it. 3 Animus, spirit, hostility— in his little heart he loves best what is most explosive, loud yellow flashes that lift him into hysterics. He tumbles around on the floor with his pillow, cheering Daffy and Porky forever after one another's hide. They whale away with whatever Providence supplies: ancient bow and arrow, catapult and boulder, shotgun, firepower of the radio-controlled rocket. There's a bullseye on everything, everyone, on the coyote's nose when the beep-beep over the rise is a Greyhound bus. That's life and he loves it! Technicolor sparks, pain all Saturday morning, bringing out the beast in him. Tasmanian devil with milk on his lip, his heart goes out, hot and urgent, to the one in pursuit—damn the anvils dropping from the sky, Michael Pettit The Missouri Review · 79 damn the train in the tunnel, the tunnel painted on solid rock— onward, upward, into bits and pieces. And what's nice is how little it matters how gone you are. Take him—no prince of bop tooting cocaine was ever quite this gone—lost and loving the red and green and blue world of simple cells, starfish world of regeneration. At her spinning wheel fuddlebrained Granny will unravel Sylvester's fur and he'll whirl, a top disappearing turn by turn. But bless her, her feeble hands and her knitting needles, she'll bring him back again, wide-eyed on the back of a sweater. Catch that flow. And see what happens when lightning strikes Porky, who's reduced to bones glowing behind a raincoat— nothing, nothing lasting. He knows it's nine lives for all the animals, ten cartoons an hour, every single Saturday morning. When Porky sputters "Th-th-that's all folks" it's not, not by a long shot. The gun going off in your face leaves it black but still intact and the whole show, miraculous and everlasting, goes on. 5 Compliment your maker, Bugs, on leaving off the fifth finger. It doesn't take long, this movement toward real flesh, before it pales, comes up short of what he wants. The wet smack on the lips you give Elmer is sweet enough, but then Popeye enters, scrapping with Brutus over the disgusting Olive OyI. AU too human—like his parents, 80...


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