Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Poem in Process – “A Mad Man with a Box”


Last week, I received some inspiration to write a new poem. I was watching an episode of Mysteries at the Museum and saw I segment on Henry “Box” Brown, the enslaved man who mailed himself to freedom. For some reason, the story stayed on my mind. The next morning when I watched a Doctor Who video on io9, I had an idea for a poem about Brown, taking elements from Doctor Who and elements from Brown’s life, including his “autobiography,” Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown, Written by Himself. Brown himself led an interesting life after freedom, becoming a magician, mesmerist and was interested in animal/human magnetism and “electrobiology.” My poem builds from the idea of Brown’s escape, as Britt Rusert said, as a kind of “fugitive science.” Below is the beginning of my poem and the setting is Brown on a stage:

A Mad Man with a Box

Hello, my name is Professor H. Box Brown.

I am a conjurer, a mesmerist and some say a

wandering prince, but mainly I’m a specialist

in drapetomania, a traveler of time and other

dimensions in space and my question for you today

is:

How does one find freedom in a box?

(To be continued)

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