A carpenter named Charlie Bratticks

Who had a taste for mathematics

One summer Tuesday, just for fun

Made a wooden cube side minus one

Though this to you may seem wrong

He made it minus one foot long

Which meant (I hope your brains aren't frothing)

Its length was one foot less than nothing

Its width the same (you're not asleep?)

And likewise minus one foot deep

Giving, when multiplied (be solemn)

Minus one cubic foot of volume

With sweating brow this cube he sawed

Through areas of solid board

For though each cut had minus length

Minus times minus sapped his strength

A second cube he made, but thus

This time each one foot length was plus

Meaning of course that here one put

For volume, plus one cubic foot

So now he had, just for his sins

Two cubes as like as deviant twins

And feeling one should know the worst

He placed the second in the first

One plus, one minus - there's no doubt

The edges simply cancelled out

So did the volume, nothing gained

Only the surfaces remained

Well may you open wide your eyes

For those were now of double size

On something now, thanks to his skill

Took up no room and measured nil

From solid ebony he'd cut

These bulky objects, but

All that remained was now a thin

Black sharply angled sort of skin

Of twelve square feet - which though not small

Weighed nothing, filled no space at all

It stands there yet on Charlies floor

He can't think what to use it for