Algebra is ____________ . (fill in the blank), by Daye Phillippo

suddenly upon me, like the yellow-green skies of severe weather

the opposite of transcendental

that gray, rust-streaked boxcar―inscrutable graffiti tags― rattling empty through town

intrusive. My walk to the mailbox has become -f(x+4) – 2 with a domain of [0,4]

too dangerous to meet at the dining room table while wearing pink pajamas

unlike birds that sing in spring because they’ve never heard of it

my son’s blue, beat-up ’89 Buick, repaired, but still less than the reunion of its broken parts

the opposite of wildflowers

a jackhammer in the city of summer

filled with pointy radical signs and my mother warning, "Don’t run with sharp objects!"

better than smallpox, the Dust Bowl, or the Johnstown Flood

a clumsy gymnast whapping and flipping around the x-axis suspended between my ears

similar to constellations, but without their romance

not poetry

poetry in the way subtraction can become addition as in the pruning of pear trees

as exponential as Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

a blackbird caged in the fractal of a leafless pear tree after harvest

blackbird, its bill a less-than sign pointing toward everything not itself


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 1.

Daye Phillippo has lived her life backward. She is the mother of eight who is studying Creative Writing at Purdue University. She lives in a creaky, old Indiana farmhouse on twenty rural acres with her husband, Mark, and their two youngest sons. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Plainsongs, North Central Review, Shenandoah and others. She holds a degree in Creative Writing from Purdue University. She lives in Indiana.

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