Sunday, September 12, 2010

Word Play with the Hypotenuse

Here we have a playful treatment of the language of the Pythagorean Theorem in "Talking Big" by John Bricuth

    Talking Big                             for Harry and Claudia

      We are sitting here at dinner talking big.
     I am between the two dullest men in the world
     Across from the fattest woman I ever met.
     We are talking big. Someone has just remarked
     That energy equals the speed of light squared.
     We nod, feeling that that is "pretty nearly correct."
     I remark that the square on the hypotenuse can more
     Than equal the squares on the two sides. The squares
     On the two sides object. The hypotenuse over the way
     Is gobbling the grits. We are talking big. The door
     Opens suddenly revealing a vista that stretches
     To infinity. Parenthetically, someone remarks
     That a body always displaces its own weight.
     I note at the end of the gallery stands a man
     In a bowler and a black coat with an apple where
     His head should be, with his back to me, and it is me.
     I clear my throat and re (parenthetically) mark
     That a body always falls of its own weight.
     "whoosh-WHOOM!" Sighs the hypotenuse across,
     And (godknows) she means it with all her heart.

From Words Brushed by Music, a collection of work by 20 poets, edited by John T. Irwin (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).  Found at RALPH : The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities. "John Bricuth" is a pen name for Johns Hopkins University Professor John T. Irwin.

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