Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Function Room

For each of us who's studied mathematics, the word "function" triggers important mathematical meanings. And so, when I read Patrice Phillips un-mathematical poem "The Function Room," I automatically add a mathematical layer to the meaning.  Do you?

   The Function Room     by Patrice Phillips

   We worked in the kitchen
   of the function room,
   me and black Jackson
   and the cook, he's Vince.
   We waxed the linoleum
   and set out the frills
   for the chromium people
   who came to those
   Friday night functions.

   Six hundred kumquats
   rolled in pastrami,
   Green frou-frou toothpicks or red?
   [Isn't that some of
   black Jackson's shrimp salad
   stuck there on that cummerbund?]
   Each function night you could
   smell the hair tonic
   from out in the parking lot.

   After the party we
   gathered up lipsticks
   left in the ladies' room.
   We swept up the chicory,
   we played with the olives.
   I took some shrimp salad
   home for my cat,
   but he wouldn't eat it,
   so I quit.

I found Phillips' poem in Messages:  A Thematic Anthology of Poetry edited by X J Kennedy (Little, Brown, 1973).  For those readers who would like to review the definition of function, here's a snip from WolframAlpha:

From WolframAlpha, definitions of function:
(click on image to enlarge)

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