Thinking Outside the Soup Can

Why a box?

Wouldn’t a pyramid or a sphere

Even an oatmeal cylinder

Be perfectly content to take its place?

For shapes can’t complain

People can but usually don’t

When faced with a subtle grace

By authority

It’s a strange world we live in

The very phrase, “thinking outside the box”!

What a cliché!

But it still resides

In most of us

Clawing inside minds

Tendrils polluting thoughts

Like oil coating water

As if

Humankind has never thought of

Plastic Ziploc bags

Or embroidery purses

Though they fill the same purpose

Ideas swim like drowning fish

Eternity, no death in sight

Inside a murky, rank mush

Of a reheated, artificial substance

Crowded by twins, triplets, quintuplets

And more

A gathering of minds

Albeit purged of righteousness

Like sardines

In a soda bottle

Thoughts reminiscent

Of vegetables and roadkill

Soft, like a butter knife

Slicing through cheddar cheese


Whispers of Arrauber Bierdeckel cheese

Have never brushed their ears

Populated by clichés, replications

Of a single, once original thought

That fell into obscurity

Never to return

Into the twin of Cygnus X

Carelessly named Cygnus Y by an emaciated mind

For apparently

Black hole names

Are more unique than human names

Though nothing stays unique for long

Sucking in most, if not all


Not even enlightened thoughts

Can escape the suction

Of the black-hole-like soup can

Visions swirling in its ambiguous depths



In its distorted quest for unity

But all places

No matter how bizarre

How peculiar

How atypical

Have a way out

Yes! My thoughts

Have grasped the sharp, serrated

Edge of the can

Wincing as the metal slices

Through the pale, delicate skin

That has not even seen

A drop of sun

Still not letting go
They clamber, clumsily

Up the cavernous hollow

Echoing with the thoughts

That have lost all hope below

My mind has miraculously

Fought against a black hole

And won

Eagerly, my mind drags itself out

Straightening up

Hoping to take a breath of fresh mountain air

And frowns

As the stench hits it

For the people

Have obviously not bothered to recycle

I ponder this newest, unusual dilemma


How to get out of

A garbage bag?

Michelle Chen
Age 12, Grade 7
Hunter College High School
Gold Key

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