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SSar's Beast
morbane
I am having a two-day holiday in Auckland.

Today my mother and I bought books and went to a craft fair, and later I went to Pip's flat-cooling party. She gave me Billy Collins's book Taking Off Emily Dickenson's Clothes! And she did not even know that I had read it and liked it.

In return I read to her from the... er... astonishing book of "mathematical poetry" I had picked up on impulse.

Examples:


IRRATIONAL

Eternal critic of the senses
I am incommensurable as soul.

Geometers denied me at first,
Quick to persecute a heretic
Who'd undermine their temple
Constructed on a marble cube.

Today they know, whose brain
Isn't a fist, clenched white:
My spirit blunts the ruler's
Cutting edge and instruments
That subdivide an open field.
On knees protected with pads
Workers pave the city square,
Afraid of my diagonal length.

and -

PRIMES

Never the products of odd couples
Crossed in obsessive multiplicity.
They're spawned randomly as stars
By a creator that loves solitaire.

Defying both tradition and ritual
That would summon them to fingers,
Each is complete, one with itself.

Their lawlessness still threatens
The hope of grasping the universe:
A generating rule might not exist
Which points to the primal source.

But driven by the blindest faith
Computers whirr in the laboratory,
Pursuing heaven's ultimate prize.


..Actually, I somewhat like this one:

BINARY

It must have been the spring of sixty-nine
(The revolution had loosened my hair) -
One and Zero met in Johnny's poolroom
With plans to subvert the state for a world
Based freely on binomial love.

One: We'll overcome the power of the fist
Before it decimates the universe.
Zero: We'll start with the basic facts -
Yes, no; light, dark; to be or not to be.

Their whispers laced with marijuana smoke,
Punctuated by kissing billiard balls,
No one, not even the marker and I,
Heard them say they'd infiltrate the future
To digitise the unsuspecting word.


That's right, give it up for Tom Petsinis, everyone.

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Those are ... not the best poems I've seen. They're trying to be math first, poem second. They don't say anything that a wiki article on the subject doesn't, except they say it all flowery. The binary one though, actualyl adds something. A poem has to say something that prose can't.

Mm. To be honest, I picked out some of the worst (except the binary one). The drama of "ultimate prize" and "afraid of my diagonal length" create quite a bit of bathos.

I paid $8 for this book, which is a pity. Mainly I picked it up (without reading it through) because I wanted to start writing poetry, and I thought that one exercise would be to read a poem by a poet I'd never read before, then write a poem as a response to what I'd read. But these are so flat.

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