A Poem Based on the Essence of Water


My poem, Patron Saint of the Abandoned Bicycle, uses a syllable structure derived from a shape called the tetrahedron. A tetrahedron is a 4-sided pyramid that appears frequently in nature, especially in chemistry. As pictured below, hydrogen and oxygen come together in a tetrahedral bond to create a molecule of water.

To make a syllable structure out of this, I take the ratio of the radius of the shape’s circumscribing sphere (the lowercase ‘r’ in the diagram), over the length of the shape’s edge (the uppercase ‘E’). In the case of the tetrahedron, the radius to edge ratio is  / 4 which works out to the irrational decimal .612…

.612 can be expressed as 30/49. In Patron Saint of the Abandoned Bicycle, the first stanza has 30 syllables (across six lines of five syllables). The second stanza has 49 syllables (across seven lines of seven syllables).

The tetrahedron is one of five shapes known as the Platonic Solids. I use ratios from all five of these shapes to create poems like this one, as well as rhythms for musical works. For more information about Kaleidoscope, my ongoing music, math, & nature project, please visit Kaleidoscope on the Patreon platform. To learn more about why I like to work with these shapes in conjunction with art, read my blog post On Creation.