The Viewless Wings of Poesy

by Robert Donohue

“You’re trapped inside a pyramid and you’re

Annoyed” was how a trapezoid was first

Explained to me, and, by extension, all

Of geometry, this was second grade

And my instructor then was Mrs. L.

Along with mathematics, Mrs. L

Would introduce the world of poetry

To me; you found it using your third eye,

She said, assigning us a poem of

Our own to write (she loved the one I did)

The two legs of this compass should have made

A perfect circle, a well-rounded student,

And should have made a more well-rounded psyche,

To reconcile spirit with the world,

But Mrs. L leaned towards the mystical

And I would take her prejudice to heart.

To say I should have given math a chance

Might seem absurd. I cannot calculate,

Yet there are stranger things, like deaf musicians,

And I can spell as well as solve for x,

Which is to say I cannot spell at all,

But with a flourish Mrs. L would chose

And I obeyed; a poet I became.


The flourish was a gesture she performed

As witness to my struggles with a worksheet.

I simply couldn’t multiply. She tore

The trouble-making page in half

In front of the entire class; my work

Was to be less than theirs, but it would count

The same, according to the effort spent.

Well, why not wear things down to zero, was

The thought temptation threw in front of me,

But Mr. L had made a poster of

My poem, hanging it upon the wall,

So from my obstinacy I arose

To occupy a rare and lofty sphere,

(My poem, after all, was on display,

A testament to my ability)

But all around me there was work undone.

This bothered me, like Shelley with his debts,

And no amount of specialness reduced

The dunning of imagined creditors,

That’s when I went to Mrs. L for help.

I found her, sitting as the lotus, on

Her desk, and her position settled it.