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"Skipping Stones"
  Neil Ayres
  E. Sedia
"Death's Little Sister"
  Mariev Finnegan
"Dirt Roads and Ka"
  Berrien C. Henderson
"Lady Glory and the Knave of Spades"
  Nicole Kornher-Stace
"Hard Little Shadows in the Early Morning Sunlight"
  James Owens
"Keep Calm and Carillon"
  Genevieve Valentine
"Problems of the Solid State"
  Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

"Off the Map"
  Ann Walters
"Homage to Al"
  F. J. Bergmann
"Performance"
  F. J. Bergmann
"How To Not Be Here When The Universe Dies"
  Marion Boyer


How To Not Be Here When The Universe Dies


(a cento-sestina)

by Marion Boyer


We are familiar with calamities: pestilences, the black

power of volcanoes, a nuclear bomb, civilizations

foamy and unstable, a frothing consumption of energy

and plenty of other problems beyond the expanding hole

in the weather. Now drifting in is intelligence

of the Big Freeze, absolute zero, end of the universe.


Today, physicists confirmed the universe

is out of control and it has them scrambling to their black

boards huddling around the flickering embers of intelligence

creating a survival guide. An advanced civilization

might try an escape plan, a suitable exit or wormhole

that connects here to there. Fleeing requires energy


(the total output of a galaxy); however, energy

should weigh less than nothing, and stacked on our universe

may be a neighboring one. It is possible. Black holes

are plentiful and might do the trick. To journey through a black

hole safely . . . here a problem arises. For a civilization

the trip would be fatal. So much for intelligence.


Why not start now, do some trial runs? Obviously, our intelligence

is limited. Hope waves from extremely far away. Deriving our energy

from dead plants, we qualify as a "Type 0" civilization.

A Type III could control the galaxy and leave this universe.

Nothing in physics forbids the scientist form a black

hole, create Alice's looking glass and fall up the hole.


How? First, gather swirling neutron stars to form a black hole.

Stir gently! This requires Type III intelligence.

One big bang and an explosion kicks everything into black

particles about the size of Manhattan. Messy. Negative energy.

Space littered with dead stars. Another option: Make a universe!

We'll need plenty of empty space and a Type III civilization.


A baby universe might equal only a few ounces. For any civilization,

acquiring a few ounces of matter is easy. Two: Acquiring a wormhole.

Three: Build a cosmic atom smasher and see what happens. If our universe

is closed, which it isn't, a laser implosion should open it. Intelligence

assumes millions of lasers, each powered by nuclear energy

firing before the stars exhaust, end of film, cut to black.


How to survive the end of the universe? Theoretically, civilization

has billions of years to perfect intelligence, probe a black

hole, harness energy. No time like the present to start planning!





from "How to Survive the End of the Universe" by Michio Kaku,

in Discover Vol.25, No. 12, Dec, 2004, pages 47-53.


Marion Boyer is a professor emeritus from Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Her chapbook, Green, was published by Finishing Line Press and Kaleidowhirl nominated one of her poems for a 2007 Pushcart Prize. Rhino awarded first prize to her poem "Endlessly Blooming with Clouds and Birds" for their 2006 competition, and she won first place in the 2008 international poetry competition sponsored by the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Boyer has been a featured writer on Heliotrope's web page and was honored to have a poem selected for Atlanta Review's 10th anniversary anthology. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Hayden's Ferry Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Permafrost, Midwest Poetry Review, Crab Creek Press, and The MacGuffin