This poem incorporates language from Amir D. Aczel’s A Strange Wilderness, as well as quotations from Bourbaki member Pierre Cartier’s recollections of Grothendieck and summary of elements of set theory. This is sort of a “B-Side” to a portfolio I recently worked on, and it feels good to get it out of my system.
Grothendieck was set up in a post-office box.
He tore through the streets hitting cops in the mouth.
Grothendieck peels off the body of Bourbaki
as a film slaking off the [great beast]. His is the long take.
An animal underwater breaking a surface
as described in the prayers of many Nantucketers.
His father was a one-eyed bird of prey.
at the IHES a name and
"they had a son together."
dietery restrictions ascribed to choice,
Judaism, or Buddhism.
A professor of statistics at an American university
capable of having certain properties and having certain relations
among themselves or with elements of other sets
a “windowless” element with no internal structure
He was a thorn in the side of Bourbaki he was a tensor in prison he gazed
at the Pyrenees from a plane ascribed in many memoirs the descriptor hell-like
upon his return
Buddy Rich’s 1967 version of ‘The Beat
Goes On’ in which Cathy his daughter
is twelve years old, drunk, and won’t stop
grunting into the microphone—
I lived for many years in filth
for no good reason
They made pleasant conjecture.
They used clever tricks to locate a small town
[If I can believe his most recent visitors he is obsessed with the devil
whom he sees at work everywhere in the world
destroying the divine and harmony and replacing 300,000 km/sec by
299,887 km/sec as the speed of light]
When I contacted Grothendieck’s relatives I was told
[Grothendieck] is probably dead.
At this writing, the mathematician is alive.