**I Even Know of a Mathematician**by John L Drost

*“I even know of a mathematician who slept with his wife only*

*on prime-numbered days…” Graham said.*

―Paul Hoffman,

*The Man Who Loved Only Numbers*

A mathematician was obsessed with things prime.

He thought about them almost all of the time.

Said to his dear wife, "It truly seems right

That we should only make love on a prime-numbered night."

His wife thought for a bit ('cause she was no dummy),

"At the month's start this does seem quite yummy,

For there's two, three, five, seven

A three-night hiatus and then there's eleven.

But of the month's end I start to be wary

Near the twenty-third day of the month February.

For the next prime day after will be March the first

Such sexual continence might cause me to burst!"

He shook his head sadly, "As it's commonly reckoned,

The next prime day would be found on the second."

**John Drost**is a professor at Marshall University; his wife also teaches mathematics. This poem is included in the collection,

*Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics*(A K Peters, 2008).

Keith Allen Daniels (1956-2001) was a research scientist by day--and at the end of the day also a poet, science-fiction writer, editor, and publisher. The following poem, "Satan is a Mathematician" is taken from the book of the same name (Anamnesis Press, 1998). "Satan is a Mathematician" was awarded the 1995 Rhysling Award (Honorable Mention) in the Short Poem category.

**Satan is a Mathematician**by Keith Allen Daniels

*for Ambrose Bierce*

The tatoo demon laughed.

"I shall inscribe you with

*pi*--

a pi whose digits are fractal glyphs

of transcendental agony, whose serifs

are inflorescent with infinities.

And I shall render it with all

the panache of a pointillist

creating continua from the discrete.

But where to begin? The anus

or the omphalos? The alpha or the omega?"

"Hey,wait a minute!", cried

the mathematician, and the demon

raised an eyebrow. "Pi's an irrational number

with a non-repeating decimal.

Such a task would take an eternity!"

"Imagine that," said the demon,

and smiling smugly, it poised a talon

tapering to a single atom, plucked lint

from the navel of its flinching victim.

Playing his last card, the mathematician

rose up on his elbow. "Have you really

thought about this? When the flesh

of one man emblazoned subsumes the infinite,

you will have modeled God from numbers

and I will destroy you!"

"The other eyebrow twitched. "Well, then,

I shall adorn you with the

*closest*

*rational approximation*of pi.

Over and over again."

"Shit!", said the mathematician.

"As you wish," replied the demon,

and began with the anus.

The anthology,

*Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics,*contains a number of poetic portraits of mathematicians including "The Mathematician in Love" by William J Macquorn Rankine and "Number Man" by Carl Sandburg. The opening lines of each of these poems are given here:

**The Mathematician in Love**

**I**(of 8 parts)

A mathematician fell madly in love

With a lady, young, handsome, and charming:

By angles and ratios harmonic he strove

Her curves and proportions all faultless to prove.

As he scrawled hieroglyphics alarming.

. . .

**Number Man**

*for the ghost of Johann Sebastian Bach*

He was born to wonder about numbers.

He balanced fives against tens

and made them sleep together

and love each other.

He took sixes and sevens

and set them wrangling and fighting

over raw bones.

. . . .

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