Treasure Island

Paul Hartal


A Fib of Nothing


It
Stands
Alone
As number,
Its name is zero.
Dividing by it? Oh, no-no.

Submitted: Saturday, July 14, 2012
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Poet's Notes about The Poem

'A Fib of Nothing" is a mathematically constructed verse: a fib. Its format bears similarity to haiku because of its strict structure. However, the haiku comprises 17 phonetic sounds in three phrases of 5,7 and 5, whereas the fib consists of 20 syllables in 6 lines, arranged in correspondence to the Fibonacci sequence of 1,1,2,3,5,8. The Fibonacci series involve the Golden Ratio, whose value of 1,618 manifests itself in nature, music and art.

In addition to its mathematical pattern, the subject matter of "A Fib of Nothing" involves arithmetic, and so the form and content of the verse are intertwined. Another aspect of this piece concerns the paradox arising from the title and the poem. Although the cipher symbolizes nonentity, it transcends the nothing of naught. Nothing is something. Actually, in the history of ideas the zero emerges as the most intriguing and mysterious object of number theory.

The fib is a Western form of experimental poetry. Its history dates back to the Middle Ages, has had numerous poetic antecedents and is related to the development of the sonnet. Its contemporary form has been popularized by Gregory K. Pincus.

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