Monday, March 14, 2016

Michael A. Arnzen


It's the ratio of a circle's
circumference to its diameter.
But it's not 3.14.
It does not compute that way.
It goes on and on in decimals
without end.

It is an imaginary number.
It is an infinite number.

It is the number of times
I stabbed Mrs. Donaghy
with my protractor
for failing my quiz.

It is an imaginary number.
It is an infinite number.

But assume I am finished.
Assume my stabbing ends
at 3.14 times
for convenience.
Then go ahead and square it
times the radius
of the half-circle
sticking out of her ribcage.

You can measure the degree
line in blood
when she's not breathing.

It is an imaginary number.
It is an infinite number.

It's not murder in the first degree.
It's murder in pi—
the convenient lie
that nevertheless holds fast
the rule.

Mike reads "Define Pi":

Subscribe to Channel Five-Two for first view of new videos.

Mike confesses: "'Define Pi' was written in response to editor Gerald So's challenge to create something crazy for 'Pi Day' (the math joke on the calendar every March 14th (3.14!). I couldn't help but associate it with math tests in high school, and it got me thinking about how the imagination sometimes runs wild when we are under the strain of a test...possibly even turning to thoughts of murder mixed in with all the mathematics. The keyword for me here is the 'infinite' bit—the way the decimal points of pi really go on for infinity (there are even websites dedicated to this weird fact——and I know people often take pride in being able to memorize more than the usual three or four places after the decimal point. But what if one imagined a murder ad infinitum? That's what I do as a horror and crime poet, and I'm always defining as much as I'm discovering along the way, so the poem virtually wrote itself."

MICHAEL A. ARNZEN has won four Bram Stoker Awards for his often funny, always disturbing horror fiction and poetry. He teaches full-time in the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University, and lives near Pittsburgh with his wife and cats. His award-winning "best of" collection, Proverbs for Monsters, is soon to be re-released by Dark Regions Press in ebook format, and a non-fiction study, The Popular Uncanny, is coming soon from Guide Dog Books, too. To keep up with his madness and receive new weird poetry in your inbox, sign up for The Goreletter at his website,

No comments: