Size / / /

The transformation of Mr. Unger was accomplished

In a nanosecond

Yet it took millennia to reach completion

With hope it began

But at the end no hope remained in the melange

That had been Unger.

His salvaged nerves

Grafted to the organic intel-internet

Proved excellent receptors of pain

And the sights his donated eyes beheld

Made him deeply ashamed of the multiverse

And its many merciless permutations.

A determination condensed

From the chimeric neural net

That the universe must not be fully specified

The powers-that-be were evidently arbitrary

Did this explain this feeling

That the skin of his brain was being peeled back

Or that some last remaining limb

Was shackled to the inner hull

Of some distant starship?

Cataloging, classifying, mapping the nodes

Of universal birth and death

The ungeric chimera made and remade worlds—

Preventing evolution of xenophobic metalife

In one galaxy, causing a chain reaction of

Giant black holes in another—

Each iteration strayed further from

The True, Zeroth World.

At last the manipulatrix understood defeat

Its last best act to prevent

Its own creation and so return

To the natural world

Parameters were calculated, conditions made ready

"Let us begin," thought that which had once

Been Unger, and it did not think alone.




David C. Kopaska-Merkel won the 2006 Rhysling Award for a collaboration with Kendall Evans, edits Dreams & Nightmares magazine, and has edited Star*Line and several Rhysling anthologies. His poems have appeared in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. A collection, Some Disassembly Required, winner of the 2023 Elgin Award, is available from him at jopnquog@gmail.com.
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.
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