Robert Dunn: Two Poems
Mathematicians’ Lament | Hymn a Few Bars, and We’ll Try to Fake It
By the water closets of Babylogarithm,
There we sat down; yea, we wet
Our thumbs, the better to work our slide-rules,
Calculating the odds on our return
To the mathematicians’ Promised Land.
"Sing," our captors tormented us. "Sing us a song
Of Zion." "We’ll go you one better,"
We replied. "We’ll sing you of Arc-Zion,
Co-Zion, and Tangent." "Woah," cried our hosts.
"Then," we continued, "we will give you
A new National Lottery, Power Stones, the odds
Of which will defy any attempt to calculate,
Including those of your wisest wizards."
And we did, and it was good. But our captors
Hardened their hearts. "Not a one of you
Will be let go until somebody wins this
Damned game." At which, we set to beating
Ourselves at our own game, this impossibility
Sent us scurrying to the Guards, pleading for
Punishment. We couldn’t win either,
Which meant we were stuck there
Forever, unless we opted for the easy way
Out, drinking Prussic acid or, worse, Zion-ide.
Hymn a Few Bars, and We’ll Try to Fake It
Your prayers [may] save souls,
move mountains, alter orbits,
set angels weeping.
But they have a lousy beat
and we cannot dance to them
Robert Dunn, government drudge by day and poet/artist by night, was born in Brooklyn, New York, but was almost immediately traded to Queens in exchange for two outfielders and the team mascot, who turned out not to be housebroken (the mascot, not the outfielders). His books include Zen Yentas in Bondage (1997), Guilty as Charged (1999), Sunspot Boulevard (2000) and Playing in Traffic (2000). Mr. Dunn has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the New Press Literary Quarterly and Executive Editor of Medicinal Purposes Literary Review, both community service projects in lieu of the penitentiary. He has served as the host of public access cable television’s Poet to Poet series, and has been widely published in numerous small press literary journals. Mr. Dunn insists that the highlight of his literary career was when the Devil himself sold his soul to the author for the express privilege of appearing in at least two of his poems. Normally, it’s the other way around, but Mr. Dunn drives a hard bargain. He has a B.F.A. in Media Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and a M.A. in English from Queens College, City of New York, both of which he would trade for an unlimited line of credit at some halfway-decent delicatessen.