Size / / /

WITHIN THE BOX

 

Skinner's daughter is or is not

within the box, a paradox.

Is she learning an algebraic maze?

Programmed with rewards that come

When she turns the gum-machine knob?

Bowing and bobbing repeatedly, inexplicably,

As if praying to an idol?

Is she alive or dead, or

In some meditative, existential state

Somewhere inbetween?

Is it a Skinner or a Schroedinger box?

Or is it Jack who is or is not in there,

While we

OUTSIDE THE BOX

 

Crank the crank madly to determine his state,

Listening to the song about

Going 'round the mulberry bush

Or Robin's proverbial barn,

Can you hear the weasel popping?

Of course not!

If any information escapes the box

The waveform collapses

And whoever comes to be inside

If anyone, will know  

THINK INSIDE THE BOX

 

Make no sense of these thoughtforms

Flickering from this being’s brain

Electrified in its own mazemind

That might be Skinner’s daughter

Might be Jill or might be Jack

Climbing the beanstalk down the

Gravity well that’s a mere pore on an

Asexual god’s n-dimensional skin

In its multiple mind they go there

But don’t they know

BEYOND THE BOX

 

It's terribly important

To not lose sight

Of the real questions

The important question

Is not whether Pandora or Rapunzel

Or Sleeping Beauty

Is still in the box

Ever was in the box

Clings to life

Inside the box.

 

 

Holy crap, there may be no box

But how do you know?

What might you become

When the waveform collapses?

And if the box is never opened

Can you get to what matters?

Even so? Or maybe

All that matters is to

BREAK THE GLASS

 

In one version

She’s been sealed inside that box since

Before Big Bad Bang

Though how she got in there

That’s a whole ’nother when, even

A whole ’nother (kind of) matter (or anti-matter)

And what you need to do

To spring her is to

BEYOND THE COSMOS

 

Let your eyes be fragmented

As your vision clears through higher dimensions

Then no box is closed to you

Reach in, grab a fistful of anything

Whole universe your Halloween candy bag

But! What! Is this?

Go to rescue your ageless sexless gorgeous

Jilljack and you find four corners

And no way in!

And so you

Pick up the box and rattle it,

Like one of those Christmas presents

Hidden away on the top shelf

Behind your mom’s hatboxes

Or beneath shoeboxes

In the closet bottom or

Beneath the basement stairs

Or beyond the heavy brass-bound door.

Rattle it a moment or two

And you are convinced, by the distinctive sound

It contains a time machine.

You open the box, climb inside,

And travel back to confront Skinner

Ask him why he locked his daughter

In the Box. He punches your light out,

The time-travel paradox subsequently

BREAKING ALL WAVE FRONTS SIMULTANEOUSLY

So are you going to open it?        The wave collapses.

Or it doesn't.




An aether compactor by trade, David Kopaska-Merkel began writing poetry after witnessing the Ascension of Tim. He won the Rhysling award for best long poem in 2006 for a collaboration with Kendall Evans. He has written 23 books, of which the latest is SETI Hits Paydirt  (Popcorn Press). Kopaska-Merkel has edited Dreams & Nightmares magazine since 1986.  You can reach him via email.
Kendall Evans is the author of 4 poetry chapbooks: "Separate Destinations" (with David C. Kopaska-Merkel), "Poetry Red-Shifted in the Eyes of a Dragon", "I Feel So Schizophrenic, the Starship's Aft-Brain Said" and "In Deepspace Shadows". His short story "Rufio's Song" appears in the current issue of SPACE AND TIME.
Mike Allen is president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and editor of the speculative poetry journal Mythic Delirium. With Roger Dutcher, Mike is also editor of The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, which for the first time collects the Rhysling Award-winning poems from 1978 to 2004 in one volume. His newest poetry collection, Disturbing Muses, is out from Prime Books, with a second collection, Strange Wisdoms of the Dead, soon to follow. Mike's poems can also be found in Nebula Awards Showcase 2005, both editions of The 2005 Rhysling Anthology, and the Strange Horizons archives.
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