by Jim Hall
All my pwoblems
who knows, maybe evwybody's pwoblems
is due to da fact, due to da awful twuth
dat I am SPIDERMAN.
I know, I know. All da dumb jokes:
No flies on you, ha ha,
and da ones about what do I do wit all
doze extwa legs in bed. Well, dat's funny yeah.
But you twy being SPIDERMAN for a month or two. Go ahead.
You get doze cwazy calls fwom da
Gubbener askin you to twap some booglar who's
only twying to wip off color T.V. sets.
Now, what do I cawre about T.V. sets?
But I pull on da suit, da stinkin suit,
wit da sucker cups on da fingers,
and get my wopes and wittle bundle of
equipment and den I go flying like cwazy
acwoss da town fwom woof top to woof top.
Till der he is, some poor dumb color T.V. slob
and I fall on him and we westle a widdle
until I get him all woped. So big deal.
You tink when you SPIDERMAN
der's sometin big going to happen to you.
Well, I tell you what. It don't happen dat way.
Nuttin happens. Cubbener calls, I go.
Bwing him to powice. Gubbener calls again,
like dat over and over.
I tink I twy sometin diffunt. I tink I twy
sometin excitin like wacing cawrs. Sometin to make
my heart beat at a difwent wate.
But den you just can't quit being sometin like
SPIDERMAN. You SPIDERMAN for life. Fowever. I can't even
buin my suit. It won't buin. It's fwame wesistant.
So maybe dat's youwr pwoblem too, who knows.
So maybe dat's da whole pwoblem wif evwytin.
Nobody can buin der suits, day all fwame wesistent.
I found this poem, one of my favorites, in a book I bought for an undergraduate poetry class at Bowling Green State University (in Bowling Green, Ohio). The book is titled Writing Poems, and it is credited to Robert Wallace. X.J. Kennedy wrote the foreword to it. You can see this poem at Jim Hall's website.
I remember this poem because it made me laugh the first time or two I read it and because it is so existential. After a while it dawned on me that the speaker has perhaps overlooked something. If he has to pull his suit on then presumably at some point he has taken his suit off. So what if it won't buin? He can give or sell it to someone else. Or he can simply refuse to put it on.
Another way of reading this poem is to consider the suit as a metaphor for the authentic self. The tone of the poem indicates that we cannot choose to be inauthentic. When the speaker is in his suit, he is his authentic self, but no one can know him then. So there's an irony there. Unless he is his authentic self when he is not wearing the suit, in which case we want to ask why he would put the suit on and leave his authentic self.
At first I thought that, to consider the speaker's authentic self is to bring something of our own to the poem. But I think that Jim Hall put clues in the poem about 'the authentic self.' In lines three and four, the speaker tells us that it's a fact, in fact it's an 'awful twuth' that he is SPIDERMAN. Then again, in the last stanza, this line of thinking returns: 'But den you just can't quit being sometin like SPIDERMAN. You SPIDERMAN for life. Fowever.' There's a somewhat stoic resignation and acceptance of this 'awful twuth,' and of course the suit won't buin. Why he can't get another suit and stop putting this one on is something we're left to wonder. It's a poem by a beginning poet, and it's a humorous poem for beginning and advanced readers. When I read this poem at a River Junction Poets meeting, Celeste, a speech therapist in our group, said she could help him out with his 'pwoblem.' Ha ha ha