PF: Math Poems

This month Catherine Flynn challenged us to write any sort of mathematical poem. It was a nice open prompt with lots of options, and Catherine included some links to inspire us. I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to write a Fib poem. I had the sense, whether accurate it or not, that it should be written about something natural. I tossed around a few ideas until, serendipitously, a blizzard arrived.


feathered down
then two    threefour and
soon the sky was dizzy with snow

©Molly Hogan

After playing around with that, I started thinking about the number, zero. Back when I taught first grade, I used to write with my first graders in response to a mentor text called “Zero is…” I always loved their responses and how the text got us thinking about zero in different ways. It reminded me that there’s more to zero than meets the eye.

In Tennis, Zero Is Love

is an absence,
a placeholder
meaning nothing is there.
An even number, 
it’s the fulcrum
on the number line
between positives
and negatives.
Zero, added,

Still, Zero is nuanced.
Holding its place,
it can move numbers
toward infinity
or with a single operation
fully erase them.
It’s open
to interpretation:
With zero,
context is everything.

When you walk beside me,
your hand in mine,
Zero is my loneliness.

©Molly Hogan, draft

If you’re interested in reading what the other Inklings have done with this challenge, check out their posts:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Elisabeth Norton at her blog, Unexpected Intersections.

34 thoughts on “PF: Math Poems

  1. janicescully says:

    Molly, how effectively you tie mathematics to emotion! And it’s interesting to think about zero, a rather sobering concept. Zero does not describe the snowflakes outside my window today. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. margaretsmn says:

    Wonderful poems! I love how you take zero for a walk and your snowstorm fib alongside the images dizzies my deep southern mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rosecappelli says:

    I love the phrase “the sky was dizzy with snow.” And the idea that “zero is open to interpretation.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] MitchellMolly HoganCatherine FlynnHeidi MordhorstMaryLee […]


  5. Bridget Magee says:

    Your zero poem is swoon-worthy, Molly.
    “your hand in mine,
    Zero is my loneliness”
    Stay warm! There’s zero snow in my neck of the woods, I’m thankful for ‘nothing’. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] Heidi Mordhorst @ My Juicy Little UniverseLinda Mitchell @ A Word EdgewiseMargaret Simon @ Reflections on the TecheMary Lee Hahn @ A(nother) Year of ReadingMolly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone […]


  7. lindabaie says:

    I imagine many of us know about being “dizzy with snow” this week. I love them both, Molly, & hearing that you used that 0 to write with first graders, awesome. Love, too, “context is everything”. Yes! Hope you are more than cozy this wintry weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for these word images; I’m going to sit with them (here in the AZ desert) where snow is mythical and zero is aplenty.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. These are both wonderful, Molly! I actually love it when the world is “dizzy with snow.” And “In Tennis, Zero is Love” is the perfect title for your poem!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a wonderful idea, mathematical poems. Blizzard’s dizziness is wonderful, and the zero poem so thoughtful. Great job! Thanks a million!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Janet F. says:

    Your fib is just wonderful, Molly. And your Zero poem…pure delight. I would love to observe you talking to the first graders about what zero means. I love the last line….zero is my loneliness, your hand in mine and I like everything about your fib, but snow feathered down is genius and the way you split the line…..then two threefour and and dizzy with snow, how perfect. One time maybe 20 years ago, and maybe twice since, I went on my back porch and looked up, I could see the snowflakes starting to pour down out of the clouds like coming from buckets, it was something I had never seen before. They were feathering down…absolutely like out of a pillow shaking onto us. Pure delight this post, Molly. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Janet. Some of the snowflakes here on Friday were the size of silver dollars. It was crazy! (and very distracting while I tried to focus on a Zoom PD meeting! lol) Your snow moment sounds like something otherworldly and a memory to cherish!


  12. Bridget alerted me to the fact that you and I had both written poems about zero, Molly. The provocations were unrelated, but we both landed in the same zone. Enjoyed your take on zero and there are some crossovers. Go figure!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. maryleehahn says:

    I love both of these, but “In Tennis, Zero Is Love” (GREAT title, btw) really knocked my socks off.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. jama says:

    Thanks for making me think of zero in whole new ways, Molly!! Love your poems; “zero is my loneliness” is the perfect feel good final line.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love the lines “Zero, added,/changes/nothing” Whew! It’s saying so much just in those few words.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. heidimordhorst says:

    Molly, “context IS everything,” in so many instances–watching you play is very fun, and a poem bookended by double-z is a winner. You worked the rhythm so well in your fib!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Heidi. The importance of context with numbers is a concept that can elude students. Is two always a small number? Well, when it’s two elephants in the classroom, it isn’t!


  17. I love your snowflake fib and your take on zero, zero might be happy with it too. And the last stanza overflows with feeing,
    “When you walk beside me,
    your hand in mine,
    Zero is my loneliness.”
    Thanks Molly!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Elisabeth says:

    These are wonderful! I am particularly in awe of your Fib poem – that’s a form I find particularly challenging. And I love how beautifully and fully you’re able to draw on your understanding of math in the Zero poem. Thanks for sharing these today and for being part of the Poetry Friday Party!


  19. Linda says:

    I love your zero poem, especially the title and first four lines. Your Fib poem is equally as wonderful!


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