Owed To Conics

O Conics, dreaded Conics, wherefore dost thou trouble me?

Thy mere existence gives me grief - I do not comprehend thee!

These curves have made me frown in frustration and in fear

For while I study, lost in darkness, I know the test is near.

A Circle is a friendly guy; he hasn't much to do

Except tell me where his center is and his radius, too.

In my fogged attempts at thought, a Circle's rather lowly

For it's nothing more than a single point that's stretched out fairly slowly.

But of course these Circles have complexities as well:

They're always going off on tangents; I do not find that swell.

They've no beginning and no end. They're simplicity made complex.

(The universe must be a Circle, then - and that thought doth me vex!)

An Ellipse, I say, is a Circle squashed and flattened in a fight

ATwixt silly lines called directrices. It has not seen the light

And, remaining angry, has these numbers thus obscure

To make me irritated, angry, and of life unsure.

It has two foci - two goals in life. And these two may be

To be a Circle once again, and then to frustrate me.

The Ellipse is an eccentric one. (But we've known that a while!

That's the only thing about the Ellipse that actually makes me smile.)

The Parabola empties like a cup, forever overflowing

Into the realms of the outer plane, where my confusion still is growing.

In its equation there's an "a" which should tell me much

About the focus, apex, and directrices and such

And some arcane black magic that they call a latus rectum.

My fellow students are confused as I: where should "a" direct Aem?

Let's see - We turn "a" inside out (or was that upside down?)

Then multiply (or divide) by two, is that a distance to be found?

The Hyperbola's a strange fellow, too; I think it's an Ellipse

That's been cut in half and turned around. It's not a cause for bliss.

It has directrices as well as two odd lines that bound it

That are uncrossable (so they claim); but my pencil slipped, confound it!

These two strange lines, my teacher says, are known as asymptotes

He hopes I'll know these Conics four and recite them off by rote.

The test is tomorrow, my teacher warns, but I think I might succeed

If I learn these Conics well tonight, and if I learn with speed.

So now I've conquered every one; I look back on them with glee!

... What do you mean, "Next week we're starting trigonometry"?

This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s .