words to enjoy

An Anti-Poem by Raymond Federman: Numbers

it is very important to remember [1]

as Jasper Johns so well demonstrated with his numbers [2]

that numbers can only refer to themselves [3]

numbers alone have no story [4]

no story to  tell [5]

only when they are added subtracted

multiplied divided do numbers tell a story [6]

then they have a plot [7]

they mean something [8]

they mean having more or less of whatever one has [9]

more or less of whatever the numbers now refer to [8]

but numbers standing alone refer only to themselves [7]

that is why the number 9 is so perfect [6]

it cancels all the other numbers when they are added

subtracted multiplied  divided one with the other and  the result is 9 [5]

0 is okay too [4]

but his particular visual quality makes certain people confuse it

with the letter 0 or with the symbol of a hole [3]

this is not so with  the other numbers [2]

their visual quality brings nothing to the mind [1]

concretely or abstractly [2]

numbers standing alone cannot become symbols [3]

they cannot mean [4]

they are nothing [5]

they mean nothing [6]

they are nothing but scratches on the paper [7]

but numbers when added subtracted multiplied

divided become dangerous because they mark

the difference between those who have much

& those who have little [8]

between wealth and poverty [9]

between all or nothing [0]

from The Anti-Poems by Raymond Federman




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