An Ode To Math: Calculating My Worth

Aishah Ali


– 1

In the process of finding myself, I lost myself

I forgot my ribs crawled across my heart to beits cage

See my body protects itself against its own pain

I forgot my defense mechanism was not a restraint

A seat belt to place,

Because my afraid was a never-ending highway

I forgot that insanity knew that you were sane

I forgot the difference between the dance and the parade

– 1

I have an extremely short-attention span

You will never capture the midst of my thought

As it tumbles through the hills of my mind

It’s sticky, bubble-gum grass and its fluctuating weather

I have more mood swings than Kim and Kanye put together,

And I wish I could buckle,

At least I’d have an excuse to let you in

My trouble exists without my thoughts

But gravity has nothing on the weight of my stubborn

So I will stand and I will suffer

My mind is way too in love with comfort to let my heart wonder

I think with my hands when I think of you,

How they cower, how they crumble

How they too are stuck in their own selfish trance,

Telling you “don’t hold me”

Because I know I can’t hold you and me

– 1

Sometimes I don’t know what hurts more,

The intense feeling or the absence of it

I feel too much, too soon and too late

My indecisiveness will stay waiting at the platform

Don’t wait for me

I will never get to my destination,

Even if you are my destination

When I do attempt to leave this platform

I won’t say goodbye

They sound too much like suicide notes,

Too much like full stops, too much like abandonment

Goodbye means reminiscing a place I left behind

And I don’t want to remind myself that

 I never to let you go, I never left you behind

So this platform will not be my vehicle to my should have been beginnings

It will be the home of all my will be been endings


I am on the platform of nostalgia 

She holds me captive

– 1

I turn from heartless women

To heartless girl,

In a matter of a heart beat

I hide behind euphemisms,


Because self- honesty isn’t my forte

Because I understand that people expect ‘Okay’s’

‘I’m fine’, ‘I don’t mind’s’

I’m creature of habit, I indulge in routine

The same coffee, same spot, same sugary dose of reality

I like repeat, I like routine,

Don’t mistake my ethics, morals, common sense to be boundaries

I like my walls,

My walls are my resting place

Please don’t knock them down

+ 1

I would rather be in a room filled with nobody and feel lonely

Then be in a room filled with everybody and still feel lonely

I’m not an introvert, I’m not extrovert, I’m not a Jon snow or a Tyrion (Shout out season 6)

Which one of the Kardashians do I fit in with?

I am not category that you can close me off with

I am not sorry that I am a 3 dimensional human being

That can’t fit it the 130 characters of an Instagram biography

I am not sorry that you can’t control me

Give me my label, give me my identity, and give me my cage

I wear it well,

Because living in a world where you’re safer behind prison bars,

Then on day-lit streets that yell bigotry, bias, and homophobia,

Teaches you to be just a bit tougher.


I am so delusional that I am paranoid

My computer is watching me,

Someone out there is taking the time to watch me,

Watch me, I beg of the world to see me

There is something about being watched that makes you feel important

Makes you feel wanted, display your life – decorate it,

Find love in everybody else’s love of narcissism.

I can only read off paper, my mind has no room for thought beyond paper

I am used to reading of scripts – paper prescription, prescribe me my fix, my medicine for the moment I lift my pen of my paper I no longer exist.

– 1

For someone that love words

I see numbers only,

Numbers on coins,

Numbers on cups,

Numbers on fines

Numbers on tickets,

Numbers that are held up

In beauty pageants,

Numbers held up at poetry competitions

The number of my student ID,

I wish I could be as perfect as numbers are,

Calculated and logical,

That I could minus my paranoia,

Add a bit of conviction

Maybe divide a portion of my compassion,

Kindly hand it to Mr. Trump before he rages

Into another offensive skit

Meaning free publicity by every media outlet,

He makes me wish that I couldn’t see numbers,

Because that would be recognizing that mathematically

Speaking, millions of people lack basic reason.

Reason I prefer to substitute my bodily pieces

And measure my worth against the ruler of freedom

Make my odd thoughts, even

Find the x to the y we aren’t feeling


– 1

The Science of tickles

Beneath my skin lay millions of tiny nerves,

Sensing any bit of harm that comes its way,

They await, for the cold, the hot, and the pain

See when you are tickled, every instinct that is suppose

To defend you, remind you, hold you,

protect you from every bit of harm that pervades you –

they too betray you

Beneath my skin lay millions of tiny nerves

So when stimulated by the slight touch of fingers

I scientifically speaking, register happiness

Register pleasure, register “It’s okay to hurt me”

My body is submitting to its aggressor

The same parts that are vulnerable to injury,

Are the same parts that abandon me

My body is naïve,

My body is a masochist

It gives its most vulnerable parts to be dismantled

So don’t tell me about trust issues,

Because why am I to trust the world with my heart,

When I can barely trust my own body?

+ 1

I’m told my need for validation in numbers

Causes self-destruction,

That my consuming ambition will not always keep me


I’ve been told it’s not about being the best,

It’s the nervous tension, the emotion,

The unraveling of your darkness

That truly matters,

Maybe I’m suffering a psychotic break

But often those who don’t play in the competition 

Never really the know the real catharsis of winning

Or maybe I’m just too competitive

I’m ‘certain’ I wasn’t raised this way,

Told it’s okay to do your best

But your best should be an A

Enough to stand on stage

Enough for you to validate

Enough to be your trophy,

I’ll sit and wave in the parade

Because it’s just easier to be passive

And obey

But it’s even easier to play the game.

+ 1

Now if I were to calculate I’d be on -3,

But I’m horrible at math,

So let’s say I’m on 3

Because every confession of

Negativity, has an opposite reaction

of relief (wait that’s physics)

and on the basis of probability,

the balloon of my dignity certainly

has no density

I float above my skin,

I watch as my insides crawl

I feel my own hands wrap around my throat

And every cell attempting to protect itself

Every thought of mine bookshelved,

Every platform I didn’t farewell

And I wonder,

If 1 + 2 = 3 and

if X could be used to find me,

If calculating my worth is subtracting pieces of my identity,

Why should I calculate the worth of something that

was created to be a masterpiece?


I am women

Thick headed and thick skinned

I am f’in flawed

But see some wrinkles are part of the design

I need to stop assuming I need to be fixed, to be fine

I am ready to be broken, ready for the world to taint me, paint me in its image, what’s the point of having a life and not really living?

And only the moment did I calculate this

Did I realize that in the process of losing myself?

I found myself.


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