KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 11: Spring 2019
Prose Poem: 248 words

Paper Clip Mechanics

by Guy Biederman

You take a paper clip—with its simple, functional design, its etch-a-sketch lines—and twist it into a two-legged creature with no head or arms. You straighten it out and turn it into a pipe cleaner covered in resin. Into a scratch awl and carve initials into your locker, next to the scrawlings made by others before you, a paper-clip registry of sorts. You discover its utility as a key to open locks, and handcuffs. You shape it into a circle whose ends don’t quite meet up, and realize, once bent, it can never be bent back to its original shape, to hold, say, this sheath of papers you would like to organize and keep together—these stories of your life. You look at your crooked fingers, your crooked handwriting, your slant on the world, and now your crooked paper clip, with its principles of torsion and history of resistance. You decide that this sheath of papers will make do as a loose pile that will get shuffled, lost, recycled, or some day trashed and you understand it’s not the keeping of them together, the organizing of them for eternity, or the semester, or the rest of the calendar year that matters, but the moments spent uncovering simple epiphanies, like the wonder of the paper clip and its simple design, the flowing of ink on the page, the momentary meaning of this life, and the unfolding of function into new shapes yet unborn, yet unbent.


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