Arithmetic – Poem by Carl Sandburg

Following on from yesterday’s poem on numbers, here is that well-known poem by Carl Sandburg on  ‘ARITHMETIC’ . . .

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Arithmetic – Poem by Carl Sandburg

Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your
    head.
Arithmetic tells you how many you lose or win if you know how
    many you had before you lost or won.
Arithmetic is seven eleven all good children go to heaven — or five
    six bundle of sticks.
Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand
    to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.
Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and
    you can look out of the window and see the blue sky — or the
    answer is wrong and you have to start all over and try again
    and see how it comes out this time.
If you take a number and double it and double it again and then
    double it a few more times, the number gets bigger and bigger
    and goes higher and higher and only arithmetic can tell you
    what the number is when you decide to quit doubling.
Arithmetic is where you have to multiply — and you carry the
    multiplication table in your head and hope you won’t lose it.
If you have two animal crackers, one good and one bad, and you
    eat one and a striped zebra with streaks all over him eats the
    other, how many animal crackers will you have if somebody
    offers you five six seven and you say No no no and you say
    Nay nay nay and you say Nix nix nix?
If you ask your mother for one fried egg for breakfast and she
    gives you two fried eggs and you eat both of them, who is
    better in arithmetic, you or your mother? 

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More of Carl Sandburg’s poems can be found
on the Poem Hunter website at: Carl Sandburg

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Detail of Collage by Clive Butler – c.1984

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NUMEROPHOBIA

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‘Teaching Maths’ … Collage by Clive Butler – c.1984

NUMEROPHOBIA

When numbers leap up at me
I often feel scared;
They can be aggressive
Render thinking impaired.
I try not to fluster
To think these things through,
But I can still end up muddled
Not having a clue.

In the shop I try hard
To keep check on my spend,
But I’m easily distracted
And I have to pretend
That I know what I’m doing,
Mind and brain won’t agree;
Are two for the price of one
Same as buy one get one free?

When I’m with my bank statement
Checking up what I’ve spent,
Deducting those refunds
Allowing for rent,
Assuming some interest,
Checking those bills,
It gives me a headache –
Cue for some pills.

Life should be much easier.
If only I’d been
An attentive student
I could have foreseen,
That time spent with maths
In school in my teens,
Might have paid off –
Unless it’s my genes!

Three score years and ten
I will not see again;
At least I know that
My bible’s my brain.
My life is a number
Too large to keep count
It’s approaching seven dozen –
I demand a recount.

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