A poetry friend reminded me recently via email of the poetry of Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) -- both humorous and provocative. The emailed poem was "Zebra Question" and it employs the strategy so often considered in mathematics -- in testing the truth of a statement, consider also the opposite. Silverstein's "Zebra Question" opens with these lines:
I asked the Zebra,
Are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Are you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
. . .
Focusing on Silverstein moved my thoughts to his poem "Smart" -- a poem that plays with mathematical quantities and is collected in the anthology Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics (AK Peters/CRC Press, 2008) -- edited by Sarah Glaz and me. Here are its opening stanzas.
Smart by Shel Silverstein
My dad gave me one dollar bill
'Cause I'm his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
'Cause two is more than one.
And then I took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes--I guess he didn't know
That three is more than two!
. . .
For the rest of "Smart" go here; for "Smart" and more than 150 other mathy poems, look for Strange Attractors -- and, to find even more math-related poems,, browse this blog.