A poet whose work I have long enjoyed, C K Williams (1936-1915), died a few days ago. (You may find a generous sample of his poems online -- for example at PoetryFoundation.org and Poets.org.) Williams is a poet whose writing does not tend toward mathematics but his very fine poem "Tar" (about the Three Mile Island nuclear plant crisis of 1979, a year when I lived in Pennsylvania not far away) has a few numbers. I present below the first stanza of "Tar" and, beneath it, a link to the rest of the poem.
from Tar by C. K. Williams
The first morning of Three Mile Island: those first disquieting,
uncertain, mystifying hours.
All morning a crew of workmen have been tearing the old
decrepit roof off our building,
and all morning, trying to distract myself, I’ve been wandering
out to watch them
as they hack away the leaden layers of asbestos paper and
disassemble the disintegrating drains.
After half a night of listening to the news, wondering how to know
a hundred miles downwind
if and when to make a run for it and where, then a coming bolt
awake at seven
when the roofers we’ve been waiting for since winter sent
their ladders shrieking up our wall,
we still know less than nothing: the utility company continues
making little of the accident,
the slick federal spokesmen still have their evasions in some
semblance of order.
Surely we suspect now we’re being lied to, but in the meantime,
there are the roofers,
setting winch-frames, sledging rounds of tar apart, and there I am,
on the curb across, gawking.
. . . The full text of "Tar" is available here.
Finally, a poetic and paradoxical quote from another great who died recently, from baseball's Yogi Berra (1925-2015): “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”