Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Goose at Counting Zeros

I was never swayed by numbers.
our mutual rejection drove me straight
to the arms of letters, who embraced me
after no more than that first glance

I saw numbers make classmates cringe
especially the negative ones
while letters yearned to live together
performing acts of creation
forming words, then sentences
then stories that made me smile

As a young athlete, some numbers made us
weep and slam locker doors
while letters formed the language of learning
and winning when it was due
We earned and wore ours with pride
and yeah, they got us the girls

Numbers told the cost
for rites of passage in a world
filled with cannibalism and greed
and when we got the bill and learned
how even the sacred can be counted
our burdens got heavier

When we added letters after our names
in hopes of changing the world
it made for a magical passage
through new doors they caused to open

In the smelly, dusty marketplace
numbers made some people whores
desperate to steal from neighbors
sell flour sacks filled with stones
dance like exploited chimps

Too many numbers betrayed
grandmothers in mournful stories
of working at the drive-up window
discarding their dreams
slinging freedom fries

Being a goose at counting zeros
hasn’t left me lacking
I’ve seen numbers corrupt others
while letters save the world
and having felt the difference
I never had to choose

Inspired by POW prompt 18, what are you a goose at?


  1. ' Even the sacred can be counted'is a line that pretty much typifies our species,obsessed with money. It seems that Mammon will always be with us. Our entire society is structured about self worth equating to income.I'm a goose at maths as well and a lot of us (including Australian poet Dorothy Porter who wrote a poem called 'Numbers' ) have shared your experience. I will put it on my site.

  2. Rall, is there a proper term for un-intentional or un-knowing imitation? I just read her poem and she's brilliant - this is what I meant! The dinasaur analogy is well timed. Thanks for the feedback. Having seen the global weather reports I hope you're safe and well.

  3. Coincidence? Am safe but have discovered I'm a magnet for jelly fish stingers..(they go beserk in the heat and are mad for me!)Everything bites or stings you down here
    (just like in real life:)

  4. JDM you have written a beauty here. I love what you say about how much better words are than numbers. Now I feel better about being lousy at maths.