in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s

when the world is puddle-wonderful
the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and



balloonMan whistles

(E.E. Cummings Complete Poems 27)

“Maybe he had a mental problem”, said Becky, an eighth grader, on her first time reading “in Just-“. So begins a wonderful article by Audri L. Wood describing her classroom teaching Cummings’ poetry to adolescents.

“Fifteen minutes later…the entire class had dissected every potential meaning from every line, every space (or lack thereof), every word. Fifteen minutes of discussion. Fifteen minutes of asking why he didn’t have to follow preset formats for sonnets, haiku, and the like. Fifteen minutes of examining how they had written poetry, how they had manipulated spacing, capitalization, and words. Fifteen minutes of memories exploded, of breathless voices of running children, of the sounds of shoes pounding the pavement during hopscotch and the smacking of the jump-rope, of inseparable friends, and of the passing notice and constant awareness of adults being present and of their whistles, reminding you that it is not just a dream, that it is spring.”

(From Spring The Journal of the E.E. Cummings Society, New Series Number 6, 1997.)