Math Problems This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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The first thing they teach you
In elementary math
Is the concept of zero, of nothing,
Of an empty space in a crumbling carcass,
Of a something that would not be,
In a world where “anything
is possible.”

The first thing they teach you
In middle school math
Is how to divide
Yourself by your own weaknesses,
How to take all that you are
And give it away,
How you can never be whole,
And that some problems are
Too complicated
To solve.

The first thing they teach you
In high school math
Is that learning algebra
Means taking your own problems
And solving them with what you have,
That your values are subject to change,
And that you always, always
Have to account for all of the
Variables.

The last thing they teach you
In a lifelong education,
Is the concept of zero,
The way that every breath you take
Holds no promise of the next one,
The way that you know your heart is beating
But you don’t know what flows in your veins,
How your hollow eyes see hollow people,
And how apathy cuts
Like a knife.

And that is why the last thing
You will ever wonder is
How the world could take something so vast
And so empty, how the order of operations
Is written in gray ink, how it takes years
Of sorting through the irrational numbers to
Condense them into a watered-down lesson and
Learn the audacity to teach it to those
Who are far too young

To understand it.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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