Summarize the poem "White Stucco Dream" by Samuel Wagan Watson and identify a language device.

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Samuel Wagan Watson's "White Stucco Dreaming" speaks of a personal recollection of his life as a youth in the 1970s. Given a summary of the poem has been provided, the answer here will focus upon language devices.

Stylistically, the poem is written in free verse. Simplistically, free verse refers to the lack of rhyme and meter within a poem. Watson also uses enjambment, the lack of punctuation at the end of a poetic line. Here, one could align his use of enjambment with a steam of consciousness. Stream of consciousness, developed by James Joyce and Edouard Dujardin, illustrates the internal thoughts and feelings of a speaker. By using enjambment, Watson shows how his own thoughts, in reflection, come back feverishly and (almost) instantaneously. Although the lines themselves are fragmented, the lack of punctuation highlights the fusion of thoughts into one constant moment.

The idea of reflection comes from Watson's use of past tense verbs. The opening word, "sprinkled," shows that the poet is thinking back to an earlier time in his life. This can be further illustrated with the following line: "No tree was ever safe." The use of the word "was" here also refers to the past.

Watson also uses dark imagery in his word choice. In the first seven lines of the poem, the word "black" is used five times. This could be to highlight the race of those he depicts in the poem, or it could be him making a statement on the hard line drawn between whites and blacks in his community and life.

The first line also contains an oxymoron. In this line, Watson recalls the "happy dark" of his mind. This proves to be oxymoronic because most people would not align happiness with darkness. This could also be identified as paradoxical. One last suggestion is that the line could include zeugma. Zeugma is where a word can refer to different senses being addressed. The first sense one could identify is a mental darkness. The second sense one could identify is "dark" in relation to skin color.

The final line, "wishing, they were with us," is curious. This line could be identified as a moment of anagnorisis. Anagnorisis exists as a discovery that moves one from ignorance to knowledge. Given that the line here is italicized, and no other lines are, it marks a definitive shift in the poet's thinking. Now, as an adult, Watson can see the situation differently than he did during his younger years.

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"White Stucco Dreaming" reads a little dubiously: it is hard to tell whether the poetic speaker is a vandal from outside or a prankster from within the community of the "white stucco cocoon." Fortunately, poet Samuel Wagan Watson clears up the dubiousness with some brief remarks to ABC TV Art Online with James Griffin. He states that the poem exactly replicates his experience growing up in a "childhood urban indigenous atmosphere of 1970s":

It exactly captures my childhood urban indigenous atmosphere of 1970s ... where I was raised - and the safety bubble of childhood fantasy. It was the time of Gilligan’s Island and Magilla Gorilla and cartoons and tree houses ... set amidst the Bjelke Pettersen Queensland. (Samuel Wagan Watson)

To briefly summarize, the poem takes us on an excursion with friendly neighborhood vandals who vandalize their "white stucco umbilical / of a working class tribe." It is hard to identify the interiority and harmless pranking nature of the excursion because, in an inverted language device of allusion, Watson uses language usually affixed to malicious vandals: "black panel-van"; "twenty blackfellas hanging out the back"; "became mutant ... overnight"; "attacked with a cane knife." Nonetheless, the final stanza does inform us of the "us," not "other," nature of the narrator and the narrator's experience:

the police cars that crawled up and down the back streets,
peering into our white stucco cocoon
wishing they were with us

The "black panel-van / called the 'black banana'" with "twenty blackfellas hanging out the back" painted innocently by-standing yard ornaments of "old black tyres"; sprayed snake's "cool venom" on the stucco from "snakes that morphed into nylon hoses," thus drenching the stucco; listened to the tune of the ice-cream truck that echoed in the "little black minds" of the now grown up "twenty blackfellas."

Australia's indigenous art is alluded to when the blackfellas leave "chocolate hand prints" on the white stucco. Their escapades are interrupted for a moment by a memory of mud cakes on Dad's camp stove "that just made Dad see black". The excursion ends with a vision of police cars prowling the neighborhoods on the back streets--the climax of the saga of adventure comes with a surprise when Watson describes the police cars as crawling down the back streets and envying the "twenty blackfellas": "wishing they were with us."

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