I wrote The Burdle Box as a rhyming journey for the child within.  It is indeed a journey – a Pandora’s box descent the self, a first fruit of the living residue of my first experience with psychedelics, and my reintegration into reality.  I wrote this twelve-minute Children’s piece in 2008, and recorded it with the wonderful Jeff Thatcher in 2010.  Children’s work has a deep freedom encoded in its form and audience.

I will not often be going back to the past, but this work is an exception.  I wrote this piece in 2008 after challenging myself to a game of chess.  I was recovering from a major spell of depression, and wasn’t sure if my mind was still fully functional.  I switched sides of the board, over and over again, between black and white.  In playing both sides, I had to consider myself from a few minutes before…what did he want?  How can I understand him?

Something clicked, and a sing-song poem started coming to me in a bounding Seussian spell chant, with Carrol-like invented words – I owe a debt to both authors here.  I wrote this piece over the next two days, and it became this piece.  Interestingly, while an overdose of psychedelics induced my depression, echoes of ‘trippy’ experiences coat the technicolor interior of this piece.

Friends have described my spell-chant style as a lovechild of Lewis Caroll and Dr. Seuss on acid – and there is certainly something psychedelic about both authors.  In the best work for kids, authors and performers can say what they want to say without guile, stripped of the need to fit into the world that is.  Children’s media is more likely to contain real magic – the fruit of the imagination which brings imagination into reality.  The best children’s writing taps into a malleable world where we can create reality as we will.  Life as serious play.  Which it is, which it all is!

Many people haven’t quite known how to classify this piece – is it for children?  Is it for adults?  Is it a poem?  A book?  Does it need to be published?  Performed?  Is it echoing Pandora, or a journey through the looking glass?  And the answer is, there is no answer exactly.  Like any child, all this work wants is to play with you, to be seen and loved and to hold your big hand in its little palm, to reflect the light and love in your eyes as you spelunk ever deeper into your limitless self.  And as you journey in, out, and all around, do remember,

“…the greatest gift that you can have in this whole world, …is YOU.”

 

The Burdle Box

 

While bracking in the dink of day,

And staring at the sky

I wondered how things got this way –

And when?  And where?  And why?

I wondered on why up was up,

And whether down was down

And why the sky was emerald green!

And the oceans toffee brown.

 

(Now, the jiggajags and crigglegroks, quite luckily, were clear.

Then, “TITMOUSE!” screamed my Burdle Box

Not two feet from my ear!

{Which was quite strange, for ‘titmouse’ is a word they cannot hear!})

 

Now.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, the sky!

For I was gazing at the sky!

 

The sky was new!  Its shinky hue was quite a nice surprise

It complimented clandtidly the scarlet of my eyes

I walked about all dreamlylike then headed for the beach

Whose waves retreated whistly yet were always in my reach.

 

I forked this opportunity to make a sport of chess,

And knew the pieces and the moves, but was opponentless.

I searched by light of day and knight, for black, or white, or red!

With no opponents to be found, I played myself instead!

 

I opened up my burdle box

And shoved my hand inside,

While scrimping out the corners

Where another Me could hide!

I seized a shoe – it was Me Two!

I pulled him out the box,

Then deep in thought I soon forgot

To clink the licksome locks…

 

“Let’s see,” I started off to say,

“Now how shall I begin?

For two of Me have come this way,

And only one shall win!”

 

“It shall be I,” chuffed my reply

“No, Me!” did I retort –

Then other Me’s climbed out the box

To join the merry sport!

A third said, “Sit.”

A fourth called, “Quit!”

A fifth drew up a court!

(Then drafted litigation that the game must not be short.)

 

Me Seven sat to be the judge,

The bailiff was Me Eight.

Me Six came next – the rest, perplexed,

All shouted out, “You’re late!”

 

The sky was green as it had been –

A caucus was assigned,

Strategically spelunkering

On moves of every kind.

 

We gathered round – the ocean browned

And washed the board away –

And so I was alone,

For there

was nothing.

left.

to play.

 

~

My Burdle Box and I set off to find a better place

Somewhere between the Sea of Breen and Inner Outer Space.

Then “Burdle,” burred the Burdle Box, and binked a rogueish hue –

For binking is the thing my Bburdle Box was plorked to do.

 

All flotsam was the jetsam in the Breeny sea below –

The mallamotes were tromping in the reddish summer snow!

They sang a very merry song, of hacklebarns and fudge –

But then escaped Me Seven saying, “Aren’t I the judge?”

No sooner did he say this then my box was opened wide –

And sucked him in from chin to shin till he was back inside.

 

(The only Me permitted out, of course, is thirty-one,

And fifty-six can do some tricks, and eighty-nine is fun –

But mostly they’re a nuisance, for they lack my skill and drive –

It’s plain to see they’re worse than me, number one-twenty-five!

 

You see, my Me was changeful before one two five took hold,

And no-one understood Me.  Too confusing, I am told.

But I’m trusting this is permanent, for just now as I speak,

I’ve been Me One Hundred and Twenty-Five for a whole week!)

 

The sky is down, the sea is up –

Or wait, was it reversed?

Such prolloxes confused me as I hadn’t quite rehearsed.

Me One oh Nine would fare just fine – at puzzles he’s a pro –

In common sense he’s rather dense, and cleanliness, so-so –

But riddles!  He unravels ‘em!  He solves an awful lot!

Which makes it awfully sad that it’s the only skill he’s got.

 

So was it a coincidence, as I was thinking, then –

The Me the Burdle burched up was but one less than one ten!

 

His nib-nob knees were nebbish – his appearance was quite weird,

Complete with speckled glasses, plaid suspenders and a beard.

He cleared his throat into his coat – well, Me, I guess it’s true –

But one of me that seemed to be no sooner Me than You!

 

“So nice to meet you,” Me said, “And I must admit, you’re strong,

But blurstly you have been outside your bindle for too long!

We Me’s prefer our bindle to the bundle where you roam.

And so, you see, it falls to Me to ask You to come home.”

 

“But where is that?” I asked him flat-out, “Where is home to me?

It feels so strange to ever change but never truly be!”

“It’s simple – try the Burdle Box!” my doppelganger cried.

“For all you’ve said within your head, you’ve never looked inside!”

 

How shocked was I by his reply?

So much I couldn’t speak!

My tongue went dry,

My hair stood high,

My grammasham fell weak!

I went up to the burdle box, then much to my chagrin –

I gazed deep for the first time…

 

And was swiftly sucked within!


And then I fell – there was a well a thousand stories deep!

The drop went slow – I watched it go at quite a barmy creep.

Some hidden sun shined colors unlike any I had  seen –

With Buggablue and Aquadoo, and Mango-Tangerine!

 

Huge ladders lined the Burdle mine, upon which Me’s took hold,

The bottom Me’s looked youngish, but the Me’s up top seemed old!

They climbed and climbed forever – but just then, without a sound,

They saw me fall – and one and all leapt off the wall, straight down!

 

There might’ve been a million – so much I couldn’t tell!

The Me’s swarmed round upon the ground and caught me as I fell.

The crowd stretched on for miles, each one different, all the same,

And each one had a number, but apparently my name!

 

“You’re Me?” I wabbled quaffishly, “We’re you!” the bindle yawped –

“You’re Us!” they rang, and sang and sang, and laughed, and danced, and hopped!

The Me’s pressed close – yes, clippie close! and jumped into my head!

I closed my eyes, then opened wide –

 

And woke up in my bed.

 

What happened next, I must confess, was normal to the core:

I reached out for my water glass, then slipped onto the floor.

So down was down – was the ocean brown?  Were two and two still four?

I pinched myself not once, but twice, perhaps to wake once more,

Then ran up to my curtains where I scanned the window-glass –

The sky was blue!  The oceans too!  So I was home at last!

 

Then Mother called from down the hall in quite a missy muss –

“You mustn’t wait!  You’re nearly late!  You’ve almost missed the bus!”

I kept my cool, and went to school, and didn’t tell a soul

About the Burdle bundle or its bulging bindle bowl.

I figured that my frilly friends would never understand

All the sassafrascinations that went on within its land.

 

The days went by, and duly I completed every chore –

I made the bed, I washed the bread, I plodged the thermidor

The weeks went on – a month had gone – it seemed like all was fine –

At least until I got a bill postmarked ‘Me 109!’

 

“If you’re reading this,” it started, in an ink the dinkest red,

“It goes without explaining that I’m deep within your head.

With all the Me’s from One, Two, Three, up till a Million Five,

For you are me – and we are free – as long as you’re alive.

 

There are oh, so many secrets lying just beneath your skin,

But in order to look closer, dear, you’ve got to go within.

For everyone has Burdle Boxes trumbled in their hide,

Some big, some small, some short, some tall, some fifty miles wide!

The difference is that most of us have never looked inside.

Eventually, O dearest Me,

If you want to be truly free,

Eventually, dear Burdlebee, you’ve got to look inside!

 

And so I looked inside, dear heart, and look inside I do,

Because I taught myself something that I already knew

This simple act – a greater fact than one and one make two –

That the greatest gift that you can find in this whole world

Is YOU.

-Duncan Horst, 2008