math head

It Is Impossible to
Divide by Zero

I assumed it was an urban legend,
but all my teachers refused.
One of them knocked the chalk out of my hand
before I finished the loop I was drawing
at the bottom of the fraction.

I argued: a zero is so full it sinks
to the bottom of the fraction.
My professor said the zero is completely empty
so it should only float up to the top. The zero on the bottom
of the fraction is like a unicycle wheel
that the top number rides.

My professor could tell
I divided by zero outside of class. I denied it
but he saw the chalk dust on my hands,
like tiny zero particulates. He recognized
the zeros I intended to write in the future.

I tried it once, and only felt a little cursed
after, it was a little like radiation poison. I felt fine for a while.
I looked the same as always, but my smile seemed coated
with drying varnish. A ganglion cyst emerged on my chalk-holding hand.
The doctor removed a few new dark freckles.
I am waiting for the tests to come back.

Valerie Loveland

Valerie Loveland used to be all alphabet and now she is letters, numbers and symbols. Her email address is and her website is