Friday, April 14, 2017

npm17: numbers 9-14

So it turns out that a five-day road trip to visit colleges with international grandparents is more than enough balls to juggle; and while I have been entertaining the odd mathematical thought (and some even thoughts too), there has been no moment during which to actually write anything down.

This was not true during our last Spring Break trip with the intrepid "Dad and Mad"--Granddad Damian and Mamie Madeleine, who ordinarily are to be found in Lille, France, but who will throw in with any agenda we propose.  Last time we visited the Grand Canyon, and from that journey arose many promising drafts, such as this one, which I will count and then follow with another infinity poem.

April 9


millions and
billions and
trillions of us
each of us our own particular
grains and
shapes and
crystals and
infinitely numerous
formed through unimaginable
eons and
from uncountable
eruptions and
erosions and
somehow we are all called

©HM 2012?

April 10

2 reaches down
out of an open window—
“one hand at the end of an arm
grasping another hand”
is what I wanted to write,
telling a story of clasped
human hands, a cliffhanger
story of two tangoing in thin air—

but looking now very carefully,
I notice that 2
does not in any obvious way
resemble “two”.

Perhaps 2 was originally more like
Z, a connected pair of horizontal lines,
and for speed in writing became curved
because after all
we do probably need 2 more often
than Z.

© HM 2017

Brahmi numerals (lower row) in India in the 1st century AD


(My brief research seems to corroborate this guess, and no, this formulation of the poem is not for young readers, but let’s let that go as a first draft.)

April 11

they call it Horseshoe Falls
and try to count the amount
of water that passes here:
six million cubic feet per minute.
what does that even mean?

but I just want to wear
this wrap of water
this pounding cape of pour
this cloak of furious flow
I want to wear this glinting infinity
this neverending Niagara
of water

©HM 2017

It's now 8 am, so I'll post my link and keep updating all day, in case anyone wants to follow the progress of my progressive catch-up today.  The roundup on this very Good Friday indeed is with Doraine Bennett at Dori Reads.  And speaking of progress, the Progressive Poem is on receives its line 14 today from Jan Godown Annino, and what a cracker it is, about-facing from Margaret Simon's line 13.  The poem has taken on exciting extremes of temperature--slam!

April 12: a special poem in honor of said Granddad's birthday, yet to come...



 April 14

Feeling Kinda Dumb

Plus means addition:
putting some in!
Minus means subtraction:
taking some out!

Plus jump ahead!
Minus jump back!
Plus: more and more!
Minus: less and less!

It all makes sense:
higher, then lower, 
forward-back like a dance,
to the right to the right
totheright totheright totheright;
to the left to the left
totheleft totheleft totheleft.

It all makes perfect sense
until I have to "find the difference,"
find the difference between
4 and 13.

Um...the difference is 
that this number is 4
and that one's 13.

And it's pretty obvious to those of us who are even a little observant that 4 has only one digit and 13 has 2 digits, and the digits are not even alike in any way, and also four has only one syllable and is spelled with four letters, which is cool because it means 4, while thirteen has two syllables and eight letters, which doesn't match up in the same way at all, so that's another difference, and also 4 is even because two people can each have a partner for the dance, while thirteen is odd because six people can have partners and one person is left out of the dance.  So I can actually find quite a lot of differences between 4 and 13.

But none of them is 9.

©HM 2017



  1. "six million cubic feet per minute.
    what does that even mean?"
    - I particularly love this line - so often we feel the need to quantify things, to categorise them as the biggest or the fastest or the longest, to rank and rate them, when none of that really matters all that much, especially not to nature!

  2. I admire you for catching up. I haven't been so good about it. If a poem doesn't appear to me on that day, so be it. That's my story this month. But you just keep pumping out this mathematical genius ditties. I love how you play with words and create the image of "sand" and the double ll's for parallel lines. Just plain clever!

  3. Way to rock the catch-up post!

    You TOTALLY captured the problem with the word "difference!" It STILL throws some of my 5th graders off!

  4. Those are some powerful numbers, that add up to magnificence and without which, we would be less. Together, they equal the whole world.

  5. I love how these poems find and explore math in a variety of subjects and topics, and yes, I can relate to the differences between 4 and 13. I hope you enjoyed the time with your grandparents.

  6. Oh, I love that never ending Niagara of water! I've been slow to keep up with everyone's projects this month, but I do love what you are doing with the numbers.

  7. Oh, Heidi I am laughing and enjoying all of your poetry contributions as you travel. Well done, YOU! Spring break and relatives and college tours....gosh, it's all so familiar. Very difficult to carve out that special alone time we imagine poet's get. I think you've got a real topic for a collection here and I'm admiring how your thoughts are organizing it all despite your travels. Keep up the good work.

  8. Bravo, Heidi! These are all terrific. I love the word play in sand, and "Feeling Kinda Dumb" captures the "please don't call on me" feeling of someone who doesn't quite get it. Hope the college visits were a success!


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!