The term *butterfly effect* has entered everyday vocabulary from the mathematics of chaos theory and refers to the possibility of a major event (such as a tornado) starting from something so slight as the flutter of a butterfly wing. This sensitivity to small changes is a characteristic of chaotic systems. Recent news in *Science* magazine (9 May 2014) has drawn my attention to sea butterflies -- and the effect that ocean acidification is having on the lives of these tiny, fragile creatures -- and the environmental warning that this portends. From the details offered in *Science*, I have constructed this poem of 4x4 square-stanzas:
** Warned by Sea Butterflies ** by JoAnne Growney
Sea butterflies --
no larger than
a grain of sand,
named for the way
The title for this post comes from *Twinzilla* (The Word Works, 2014), by Charleston poet Barbara Hagerty. The title character of this collection is one of several poetic personalities that inhabit Hagerty's verse, and she offers a playful view of life's dualities -- sometimes versed in mathematical terminology. Here's a sample.
** Twinzilla Cautions * ** by Barbara G. S. Hagerty

Do not accept packages from unknown persons.
Beware non-native strangers who may be concealing
hazardous contraband "down there."
Question algebra. Dismantle thoughts traveling
the brain's baggage carousel in parabolas.
My neighbor, Glenn, is fond of asking math-folks that he meets the question "Is mathematics discovered or invented?" -- and when he asked the question of MAA lecturer William Dunham the response was one word, delivered with a smile, "Yes." The question of invention versus discovery -- which may apply to poetry or to mathematics -- is thoughtfully considered in "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction" by Wallace Stevens (1879-1955); here are a few lines from that poem.
from **It Must Give Pleasure,**** VII** by Wallace Stevens
He imposes orders as he thinks of them,
As the fox and the snake do. It is a brave affair.
Next he builds capitols and in their corridors,
Here is a small poem richly vivid with the contrasts of opposites:
beside a stone three
thousand years old: two
red poppies of today
by Christine M. Krishnasami, India, found in *This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from around the World* (selected by Naomi Shihab Nye, Aladdin Paperbacks, 1996).
Here is a poem by Saskatchewan poet Karen Solie.
** Found ** by Karen Solie
*Elementary Calculus*
From *Elementary Calculus* A. Keith and W. J. Donaldson.
Glasgow: Gibson, 1960.

Speed (like distance)
is a magnitude and has no
direction; velocity (like displacement)

has magnitude and direction.
Austrian-born Olga Taussky-Todd (1906-1995) was a noted and prolific mathematician who left her homeland for London in 1935 and moved on to California in 1945. Her best-known work was in the field of matrix theory (in England during World War II she started to use matrices to analyze vibrations of airplanes) and she also made important contributions to number theory. In the math-poetry anthology, *Against Infinity*, I found a poem by this outstanding mathematician.
One of the ways we overcome our nervous shyness about our disabilities is by talking about them, and writing about them. And by encountering the poetry of Kathi Wolfe. I enjoy her work out-loud -- she is a frequent performer of her poems at local DC-area venues -- and on the page.
Kathi's "Blind Ambition" (in which she speaks of the monsters in arithmetic) is offered below; I first discovered this poem when it was posted by Split this Rock as poem of the week.
Literary works by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898, aka Lewis Carroll) are crammed with mentions of mathematics. One of my favorites (found here with numerous others, including "Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, Derision") is this exchange from Carroll's *Alice in Wonderland*.

"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
*Alice in Wonderland*