NUMBERS

My daughter struggles with a Statistics class,
complains about probabilities,
sends shudders of memories through me.

In old age now, I don’t do numbers,
only see the ball scores,
know the higher number means a win.
Praise to James Van Tassel for the calculator.

In eighth grade, the math teacher,
nicknamed Rajah,
huge in voice and demand,
threatened to call my father
because I didn’t pay attention.
Tried to tell him I didn’t get it.

What mathematical de Sade
invented Algebra?
Saved by Mr. Piazza
the wrestling coach, a D minus
kept me on the team.

And Mr. Olson for Geometry,
Euclid rhymes with putrid.
He assigned everyone a personal theorem.
So, when he called on me, I always got it right.
Vertical angles are always equal.

In college, took a general Math requirement,
had to pass to stay in school,
had a crush on the tutor,
tried hard to please beautiful Ms. Christiansen,
No one in the world has gotten a
D minus, minus—except me.

On the LSAT for grad school,
the Math exam stumped me
after six problems, ending with a question
about Napoleon’s Bones math concept,
equilateral nightmare.
Fifteen minutes in, I put my head down.
The proctor asked: “Are you sick, young man?”

Learned helplessness, they call it,
born with that malady.
I am not proud.
How can you be proud of what you didn’t want to be?

But I got smart, married
a woman who could measure things,
took the measure of me.
I made it through life without numbers.
Can you beat those odds?

Vern Fein has published over one hundred poems on over sixty sites, a few being: *82 Review, Bindweed Magazine, Gyroscope Review, Courtship of Winds, Broadkill Review, Monterey Poetry Review, and Corvus Review.

Categories: Poetry

Daily Drunk

Shawn Berman runs The Daily Drunk. You can follow him on Twitter @Sbb_writer.

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