John C Mannone
Schrödinger’s cat didn’t die
when it was looked upon with
that deathly look, whether
the observer was conscientious
or not. It just stealthfully slipped
into another dimension or heaven
where feelings are stunning
mosaics of colors.
How did the feline feel when she
learned her alter ego was alive
and well? And did it cost her
one of her precious lives?
Every shade of blue mottled her,
framed her with vibrant rust-red.
Is there new physics emerging here?
Can one really talk about the color
of hope or love or even of faith?
One day, our clothing will be sewn from
our good deeds, some garments will be
about praise, others, supernatural to fight
demons with unshackled prayer—words
like swords from the very vesture
we might be wearing.
And what about our pets? Especially the Schrödinger cat,
which is really mine. There, even wave functions are sacred
because I can ride them all the way to my creator
and not worry about those real or imaginary sharks. Besides,
the lion will lie next to the lamb, and the shark will be kissed
by the porpoise. And the dog will quietly play with the cat.
Those beautiful black cats will have no ladders to walk under,
just trees, trees waving their branches, while Earth sings—it’ll be
a new heaven, a new earth. And I will sit on my creator’s lap,
recline into his bosom, and solve quantum mechanics problems
to my heart’s content. [After all, equations are another form
of poetry—the language of God.] There, wave functions
won’t collapse, instead they’ll put on flesh, humble themselves,
and save the otherwise-damned cat from that mystery box.
John C. Mannone has poems in Windhover, North Dakota Quarterly, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, and others. He won the Dwarf Stars Award (2020); was awarded an HWA Scholarship (2017), a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature; and served as celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). His full-length collections are Disabled Monsters (Linnet’s Wings Press, 2015), Flux Lines (Linnet’s Wings Press, 2022), Song of the Mountains (Middle Creek Publishing, 2023), and Sacred Flute (Iris Press, 2024). He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex and other journals. He’s a professor of physics who also teaches mathematics and creative writing in a Tennessee high school.
Backstory: I facilitate a weekly Ekphrastic Workshop, where art inspires art. I had photographed a cat on the sidewalk at the apartments where I used to live in; the original image wasn’t remarkable so I applied one of the many a prism filters in Toolwiz photos to bring out more detail resulting in the “impressionistic painting” attached, which in turn inspired my poem. The color granulation led to one weird thought after another—from the Twilight Zone to quantum physics. I wondered about Schrödinger’s Cat and wanted to approach it from a different angle. At about the same time, I had stumbled on a PBS Space Time special, “Does Quantum Immortality Save Schrödinger’s Cat?” [probably through Quora]. Trust me, writing the poem was far easer. To complicate things, it was Holy Week, and the cat found itself in a sacred place.
Image Credit: PBS Space Time special, “Does Quantum Immortality Save Schrödinger’s Cat?”