Sunday, April 26, 1998

DIVIDING MORNINGS BY AFTERNOONS

DIVIDING MORNINGS BY AFTERNOONS

All this new math asks the impossible:
I divide morning by afternoon
to arrive at a total bird count.
Let me go, like the water iris 

fisting its way towards death,
for I have seen the day lose its breath
 as the sky blanched and contracted.
 Another crisis averted, a dress rehearsal

converted into an equation for living
one's life the appropriate length of time.
 Or is it a case of X plus integers?
If only the problem were that simple,

like laying out a sonnet rhyme scheme
and then filling it with wild birds.

4/26/1998
added 9/2016
minor revision

The Higher Functions of Lower Math (Archie Williams)


I have spent the morning weeping over the higher functions of lower math while the medical student Tom, a doctor in waiting, sleeps in the other room. He is neither doctor nor student, yet he would have no trouble passing the math test. He could pass it in his sleep. Maybe I should ask him while he sleeps.

Neil attempted to show me the simple algebraic equations that poor Archie Williams tried to teach me some 25 years ago. He may have been the first black man to win a gold medal for running, but he couldn't teach me the higher functions of simple math.

I admired that golden disk within its five interlocking rings. And the heft of Archie's Olympic medal. Nouns Berlin and Hitler were stored in memory to be extracted at a later date when the larger picture would reveal itself some some 20 years later— when I fell asleep in front of the TV.

Hearing Archie's name mentioned on the TV, I pieced together a string of names that were attached to the story of Berlin, 1936, Jesse Owens and Archie Williams—the underprivileged, the those censored by race and by creed. Under a Nazi Germany, was it Nuremberg? The story took years to piece together. Before internet.

I struggled to become a teacher like Archie, but I failed a practice CBEST test. A test a sixth grader could ace. I couldn't piece together the parts of the whole in order to pass the practice test. I'm failing the higher functions of lower math.



see more on Archie Williams
"Olympic Pride, American Prejudice" documentary includes Archie WIlliams
RIP Harry Roche
Segregation Games (Archie Williams)

Monday, April 13, 1998

COLLECTING STONES

COLLECTING STONES

Turquoise protects against catastrophe.
Amethyst promotes mild misunderstanding.
Citrine is an agent between the lower
and the higher self.
I am advised to follow my vision.
Keep my intentions honest 
and make sure my motives are pure.
I'm told to develop objectivity 
and stand back to observe the self.
Try to be more forgiving 
and less possessive, the oracle says.
What a bunch of crock.
I am no Brandenburg Concerto
or a mad minuet of the butterfly in flight.
I am the brash opening of Beethoven's Fifth.
What did I expect seeking advice 
from clattering stones?

April 13, 1998
10/15/2015