sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

mtns2The Story of Mathematics

It was the last day of class before Christmas vacation, and our high-school math class was restless and without anything much our teacher needed to cover.

“I can prove the existence of the integers from the axioms that there is a number one and the operation of addition,” he said, and started scribbling on the board.

1+1=2
2+1=3
and so forth.

That was the beginning of my love affair with number theory, the elegant pie-in-the-sky structures mathematicians build; structures that appear to have no application to the real world but somehow do.

The first number poem I wrote was called Round. Round was sparked by my memory of a discussion in a college physics class about the rate at which a cup of coffee would cool and how the shape of the cup played into it. We spent an entire class writing equations about the rate at which the coffee would cool based on the cup shape; we concluded a tall, narrow mug is best – least surface area at the open top.

Another trigger memory from a math class about the sphere having the least surface area per unit volume of any solid figure. One afternoon as both these memories chased each other around the inside of my head, I wrote the poem.

Round

The sphere
is the perfect
shape

for conserving heat,
providing the least
surface area
per unit
of volume,

thus explaining
why Santa

lives at
the North Pole.

It was published, a friend liked it and challenged me to write more.  So I wrote.

About Counting

If you couldn’t count, could you still tell if someone took one of your toys? Maybe, if you only had four or fewer toys. Perhaps you could tell with five, but at some point, we all reach our limit, where we can’t tell unless you we count. And, it turns out, some animals, such as birds and insects, have a number sense, too. So while the ability to count is, in a sense, built into our genes, the symbols we use for numbers and the whole structure surrounding them: addition, subtraction, and all the rest, are our own creations.
If we couldn’t count there would be no computers, no telephones, no electricity, no television or radio or boom boxes. In short, no modern civilization.

Man invented arithmetic. In fact, he invented numbers and counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions and percents. He invented the whole structure of arithmetic. It did not, as I like to imagine, spring full blown from the mind of some great Mathematician in the sky.

A Few Poems

This is the way I like to dream mathematics came into being:

The Way it Should Have Been

In the beginning there was zero, void.
And the Mathematician said,
“Let there be a number one,”
and there was a number one.

And the Mathematician said,
“Let there be addition,
so numbers can be added together,”
and there was addition, the first operator.

And the Mathematician said,
“Let them go forth and add,”
and they went forth and added.
And there was two, three, four, five, …

And the Mathematician said,
“Let there be subtraction,
so one number can be subtracted from another,”
and there was subtraction, the second operator.

And the Mathematician said,
“Let them go forth and subtract,”
and the went forth and subtracted.
And there was -1, -2, -3, …

And there were positive integers,
and there were negative integers,
the first set of numbers.

And the Mathematician looked
upon what he had created,
and behold, the sum was greater than the parts.

Birth of the Twos

One is the mother
of the integers,
addition their father.

All you need
is love
and number theory.

Addition

In arithmetic,
one plus one
always makes two.

In life, if you wait
nine months
you might get three.

icicles

in December . . .

we lived in the arms
of the most spectacular
ice storm
I’ve ever seen

overwhelming beauty
in the midst of devastation

 

 

 

downed-tree

— obstacle course of
downed trees and lines

invisible log-middles
hauled away, heads and feet
left to bookend the road

— scream of branches wrenched,
ripped from the mother trunk,
visible scars that won’t heal

an image from tree-2
a lifetime ago

Dr. Zhivago
and Lara
in the Ice Palace

surreal, breathtaking,
achingly
exquisite mist
protected them briefly

A tiny taste
whisper
scent
surrounded us
for a week

 

And now,
we have power
again
more power
than we knew

let-there-be-lights

May the lights of the season
fill us with gratitude

show the way
to a peaceful
fulfilling
and happy new year

Michele

 

Playing Around: me and Gertrude Stein

gertrude_stein_by_alvin_langdon_coburn

I am taking an online poetry class, and one of the poets we’re studying is Gertrude Stein, an American novelist, poet, and playwright: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_Stein

The last time I took this class, three or four years ago, Stein kind of slipped by me. This time, I am enchanted with her language play. My particular favorite at the moment is her verbal portrait of Picasso, a kind of cubism in words rather than a straightforward description of the artist.

Here is a link to Stein reading the poem, “Would he like it if I told him, a completed portrait of Picasso”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJEIAGULmPQ

Playing Around One: A Sestina

 

Inspired by this, and by a list of words from a poetry challenge, I decided to write a sestina. A sestina, for those who don’t know, is a poem consisting of six six-line stanzas plus a three-line envoy where the end words repeat in a set pattern https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sestina

I wrote a Sestina where I repeated the entire lines and not just the ending words. If you want to try writing one, you might use http://www.renajmosteirin.com/sestina.html to generate the end of line words in the correct pattern. When I wrote mine, I repeated the entire lines of the first stanza instead of merely the final word.

the_djinn_by_maeshanne

The Devil Made Me Do It

 

Write right
Trudge down the road
Leave footprints in the snow
Meander through thick pine forests
until you see apple blossoms
Mending boys is significant

Mending boys is significant
Write right
until you see apple blossoms
Trudge down the road
Meander through thick pine forests
Leave footprints in the snow

Leave footprints in the snow
Mending boys is significant
Meander through thick pine forests
Write right
Trudge down the road
until you see apple blossoms

until you see apple blossoms
Leave footprints in the snow
Trudge down the road
Mending boys is significant
Write right
Meander through thick pine forests

Meander through thick pine forests
until you see apple blossoms
Write right
Leave footprints in the snow
Mending boys is significant
Trudge down the road

Trudge down the road
Meander through thick pine forests
Mending boys is significant
until you see apple blossoms
Leave footprints in the snow
Write right

Trudge down the road until you see apple blossoms
Meander through thick pine forests Leave footprints in the snow
Mending boys is significant Write right


Playing Around two: More Fun

 

Then I put the words through a “cut up” machine

http://www.alepoems.com/poems/generate

 

and edited the result, coming up with the following:

 

Cut Up

Forests Meander right through blossoms

Devil blossoms in leaves

through thick apple, significant

See pine See forests

 

down until

right is pine blossoms

Road is trudge

Write forest roads

You leave

Trudge pine forests

Trudge through snow

is the thick trudge

 

Footprints meander

Write boys, apple

Leave, the see pine thick

Right boys, leave down the snow

 

Meander, leave right

the pine is the boys road

right until trudge

in apple footprints

 

Blossoms until in snow

down through significant footprints

Leave mending in, meander

See until trudge apple

 

Write down thick blossoms

See boys in mending forests footprints

apple significant road

until you meander

 

Footprints see right

Mending thick apple,

you leave footprints

significant is right

 

Loads of fun! Go ahead, try playing around and see what you come up with. Feel free to post your poem(s) in the comments.

600px-william_simpson_-_charge_of_the_light_cavalry_brigade_25th_oct-_1854_under_major_general_the_earl_of_cardiganWhat is a Mesostic? A Mesostic is similar to an acrostic, but the spine word (or words) run down the middle of the page rather than down the left side. The letters of the spine phrase are capitalized. The choice of words also follows certain rules: the next capitalized letter can’t appear between it and the next word, or sometimes both the capitalized letter and the next capitalized letter can’t appear.

Here is a short article on Mesostics:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesostic

Mesostic poems can thus be generated using an initial text (Oracle) and a spine word, most likely using a Mesostic generator program. Here’s a link to one:

http://mesostics.sas.upenn.edu/

and here’s some information about the project at the University of Pennsylvania that produced the program:

http://mesostics.sas.upenn.edu/about.html

Here is an interesting piece by Marjorie Perloff about John Cage’s Mesostics:

http://thebatterseareview.com/critical-prose/116-john-cage-conceptualist-poet

The following was generated from “Charge of the Light Brigade” source using the poem’s title as the oracle:

                      
                  in guns into ii the theirs Cannon
                                rigHt
                              them cAnnon to left of
                                 fRont of and stormed boldly they and of the
              their sabres bare as in air sabrinG
                                 thE gunners there charging
                           army while wOrld wondered plunged in the batterysmoke
            they broke cossack and russian reeled From
                                  sTroke sundered rode but not not
                            v cannon rigHt
                                of thEm cannon
                                 to Left of
                              them behInd at had of from mouth of
             left of six hundred vi when can their Glory fade o
                                wild cHarge
                                   They made all world wondered honour they made
                            the light noBle six
                                 hundRed
                                   I half a half a a onward the rode six
                           forward the liGht
                                  chArge for the
                             guns he saiD
                               into thE of left and through

You might think, “Everything’s up in the air. I can’t write.”

Or, “I’m so upset, I can’t paint right now.”

Or, “I’m moving and I’ve put all my supplies away. I’m not able to make anything.”

These are the times, during change, when it’s imperative to pick up the pen, the paintbrush, to sew, dance and make music.

In the past year there’s been lots of change in my life. I have a new boyfriend. There’s been a lot of family and friend drama. I’ve considered moving. On the world stage, there’s been a divisive election year followed by an even more chaotic post-election season.

hillary-clinton-donald-trump-drug-policy

I’ve had a hard time creating this year. It seems pointless to write and make things when I’m upset or angry. Is my creative work important during these changing times? I’ve decided it is. In spite of all this chaos, I’ve learned the basics of quilting, started a photography website Anne Westlund Photography and even wrote a few poems.

If nothing ever changes, we become stale and so do the products of our creativity. Rather than decry these “interesting times,” use them as fodder for your creative impulses. Utilize conflict and uncertainty as inspiration, subject matter, and learn to see the world in a new way, with “new eyes.”

That’s what we need, a new vision, not the “same old, same old.” So get creating! Much success to you!

daffodiills-1

NaNoWriMo &
Poetic Asides November 2016 
PAD (Poem A Day) Challenge

Time to gear up, stock up on extra Halloween candy, charge all your batteries, and get some sleep while you can.  It’s Lose Your Mind Month for writers and poets.

We have several post here about NaNo and the PAD Challenges we’ve done as a group, as well as individually.

National Novel Writing Month
(NaNoWriMo)

Write a completely NEW 50,000 word novel from scratch between Nov. 1 – 30, and load a gibberish version on the site for word count at the end. If you are a REBEL (me), you can engage in variations on the theme.

This year, I have two projects:

  1. my hubby and I are co-creating a shorter novel (novella length, maybe). His ideas and story design, with me making it into something cool, doing all the writing.
  2. Editing, fleshing out, and completely revamping a NaNo I wrote in 2008. The idea is to see if I can create a novel in verse, or at least extensively in verse.

Poetic Asides November 2016 
PAD (Poem A Day) Challenge

The Poetic Muselings are going to tackle the PAD Challenge again at Poetic Asides. Our goal is to gather our collected poems from the past few PADs, pick a dozen or so prompts we’ve all done, and come up with another book — with four versions of each prompt we select. Maybe more poems will be added, but we’re aiming to embrace our eclectically creative take on specific prompts.

Anne is posting her poems on her site, so check them out there:
http://anneisstaringatthesun.blogspot.com/

If the rest of us decide to use our own sites as well, I’ll add the links here.

Stay tuned for updates during November and after.

 

Michele

Here are three poems I wrote in response to photo prompts for F2k class at Writers Village University.  Writing a poem inspired by a photograph is harder than you think!

picture-prompt-1b

Of Frogs and Fishing

I’ve kissed a few frogs.

In the fourth grade,
warts on my hands
from kissing a boy,
no doubt,
his eyes bulging, croaking
hello in the halls.

The auto mechanic
who told me fish stories,
never kissed him.

Prince or pauper?

The newly divorced,
washed up on the beach,
flopping on the sand.
Yeah, I kissed him.

Plenty of fish in the sea,
or so they say.

The businessman who flashed
a fistful of credit cards,
enough for decent fishing gear.
I never kissed him.

Maybe it was the tin crown
that fooled me, the too shy
toad always just out of reach.
I kissed him.

Does that make me a princess
in a pink tutu, ever hopeful?

I’ve kissed
a few frogs.

picture-prompt-2c

Patriot

I believe in liberty,
justice, peace and plenty.

All that good shit.

The flag for which it stands.

And the Pursuit of Happiness.

You both get out of my way
before you get trampled.

And that guy, carrying that flag
on the beach, like it was yours alone…
and alone to bear.

These red, white and blue tennies
will leave marks on your back.

So get out of my way,
get out of my way.

picture-prompt-1c

Stacks

My bedroom,
shelves of notebooks
and books, both kinds,
hardback and paperback.

They could be the important
kind, history, philosophy,
politics, law.

Instead, fiction-old favorites
and new friends, cookbooks,
Astrology and travel books,
writing books.

The local branch
of the Westlund library.

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