**We Are the Final Ones**

we breathe dirty air

oil scums our waterways

we breathe dirty air as we breathe dirty air

bees disappear

we breathe dirty air and oil scums our waterways

climate change affects the poor first

we breathe dirty air as oil scums our waterways

oil scums our waterways as we breathe dirty air

we breathe dirty air and bees disappear

glaciers melt

we breathe dirty air as we breathe dirty air and oil scums our waterways

drought is a serial killer

we breathe dirty air and climate change affects the poor first

oil scums our waterways and bees disappear

we breathe dirty air as we breathe dirty air as we breathe dirty air

What will happen to the polar bears ?

The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic asserts that every positve integer greater than 1 either is prime or can be factored in exactly one way into a product of powers of prime factors. In order to recognize whether two factorizations of an integer are the same, the primes are written in increasing order. For example, 12 = 2² x 3 and 18 = 2 x 3².

Including the title line, "We are the Final Ones" has 17 lines. The title corresponds to 1 and subsequent lines are associated with, in order, the integers 2, 3, . . . 17. For each prime integer (divisible only by itself and 1), a new phrase is introduced. For composite integers, such as 12, the poetic line is a combination of lines corresponding to its factors and their exponents. The connector "and" represents multiplication and "as" represents exponentiation.

The first poem I encountered that's structured by this unique factorization theorem is "On the Sadness" by sculptor (and poet) Carl Andre. I found it in

*Numerals 1924-1977*by Ranier F Crone (Yale University Press, 1978); now it also is available in the math-poetry anthology,

*Strange Attractors*(A K Peters, 2008). Andre's poem has 46 lines and they correspond to the integers from 47 down to 2. Here are the first 7 lines:

47 The door is closed

46 = 2 x 23 We are going to die if the moon changes

45 = 3² x 5 The sky is blue then we are going to die if the grass is green

44 = 2² x 11 We are going to die then we are going to die if the sea is cold

43 The window is open

42 = 2 x 3 x 7 We are going to die if the sky is blue if men grow old

41 Night comes slowly

. . .

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