The Fist of Fibonacci

An Interactive Poem Project for MetaDada

by Rhonda Pettit and H. Michael Sanders

Image01-Fist of Fibonacci


“Golden Numbers with Line by Jack Spicer” is a poem based on the well-known Fibonacci sequence of numbers, in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. This pattern of numbers occurs repeatedly in nature, with the stabilization of the ratio between numbers reaching .618 to 1. Many have believed that this ratio, known as the Golden Section, represents a way of arranging parts to each other and to the whole of a piece in an aesthetically pleasing way. Modern artists, musicians, architects, and poets have applied this ratio to their work.

Image02-Fibonacci Diagram

In our poem, we applied the sequence to the number of lines in each stanza. Rhonda Pettit started with a borrowed line by poet Jack Spicer (“Imaginary Elegies I”; the remaining lines to be original). H. Michael Sanders followed with another single line (1 + 0 = 1) stanza; Rhonda responded with a 2-line stanza (1 + 1 = 2), etc. The writing is largely improvisational, drawing on the spontaneous aesthetic they used in their collaborative work for the Gaps & Overlaps exhibition at the UC Blue Ash College Art Gallery (

Image03-Fibonacci Numbers on Paper

How long will they be able to keep it up before the poem metastasizes into stanzas consisting of hundreds and thousands of lines? How long before the Fist of Fibonacci pounds these hapless poets into mute, slowly settling layers of dust?


Golden Numbers with Line by Jack Spicer
by Rhonda Pettit and H. Michael Sanders
srednaS leahciM .H & titteP adnohR

First published in the MetaDada Blog []
as a serialized feature titled The Fist of Fibonacci

Fist of Fibonacci – Installment 1 Published on February 25, 2016

Stanza 1 (1 line)
Poetry almost blind like a camera

Stanza 2 (1 line)
An image resolves in the gap between impulses

Stanza 3 (2 lines)
Rises to tone untangled from chord and rends
all dissonance, consonance, chemistries of stance

Stanza 4 (3 lines)
Buzzing like hot insect breath in the ear canal,
calcifying jellied membranes into photo emulsion
through which visions arise and faintly flicker

Stanza 5 (5 lines)
to sweep and to swap such mechanical indignities
as numbers always dictate, lodging here and there
like tics between follicles, for the space
filled with meaning i-chinging possibilities
with exposed surfaces and supposed persons (O, Emily!)

Stanza 6 (8 lines)
I can hear the phone ringing but can’t find it…
where is that damn thing and who keeps calling me?
then the phone stops ringing and it’s so very quiet,
so quiet that I begin to hear my heart beating and
the rhythm of my blood surging through my arteries…
where is that damn phone and why is it so quiet,
why doesn’t it ring, why isn’t anyone calling me?
why do I keep asking these questions of myself?


Fist of Fibonacci – Installment 2 Published on March 04, 2016

Stanza 7 (13 lines)
Because poetry almost deaf like a phone keeps calling
all the unlucky numbers, keeps dialing with its thumbs
the image transmissions of words and music we need
in these our times trying hard to be and knot. Be. Cause
poetry almost hard and shiny as a plastic case (or a case
of plausibilities) reflects what it sees through its thorn-
colored glasses and ouch! what we wouldn’t give for
vision so sharp, for a series of sharp visions, for serious,
Sirius-less visions. Because poetry almost free as the ag-
gregate that used to be your driveway and far more
sharp and colorful when it’s lodged inside your shoe
is on the ball and better than a cell phone a bell tower a bell
curve. A blister not a diamond is a supposed poem reaching

Stanza 8 (21 lines)
Peering intently into the thick and blistering darkness,
thumbs resolutely thrust into raw, bulging eyes while
familiar voices ring hollow – as empty and wooden as a
napping ventriloquist’s dummy face down on the stage –
teeth chattering in odd rhythms that can only be followed
with fugitive and transitory attention without any thought
or meaningful intervention into the thinning, ephemeral
mist condensing into rivulets of sweat stinging the eyes…
fuzzy edges embedded in glib, transient interpretations
trapped in the slow, inevitable process of disappearing
into languorous foetuses emerging directly from the hot
entrails of the poet, issued singing the diabolical songs of
charlatans with tongues of flame flapping like loose sails…
thoughts, ideas and words transformed into cheap tourist
souvenirs and dropping like fat sausages into a cosmic
conflagration swirling into the fine royal jelly of bees…
transfixed by breathing and formulating urgent plans for
childhood while wearing the deep, red scars left as tracks
by the ticking clocks of history… still ticking… ticking…
with minutes before the alarm goes off to betray the faith
in silence [                                                                        ]


Fist of Fibonacci – Installment 3 Published on March 11, 2016

 Stanza 9 (34 lines)
. But by now we all know what it all adds up to: the Fugitive Poem bursting out
of and blurting out from the white space, the silence, the old cold
blanks shot by the corporate snow that carpets our membrains.
Less than a birth and more than a muse, a genie, a goddess,
the gods or the godless, and ranging from mountain-sucking
electric clouds of digital digitless ink pots to hand-held inklings
on their slow-to-go scratching on the backs of pages, with secret
sages leaning over their shoulders, shushing the pouters,
the doubters, the internal editors, and stomping the little rats running
their wheels of spin screaming faster faster more more faster faster
better better this sucks that way that sucks this way faster more, and Splat!
goes the rat for a moment or two, those secret sages like Big Foot
or somebody’s Lassie saving the day. And out scats the loco fermenti,
the voco con jello, the verso contrivo, the here it is, Gumby, and the rest
of us can read it, ride it, jump from it, or swim in it, all it takes
is our two eyes and a few minutes of our lives. The time it takes
to imagine singing an aria with a blistered tongue. Let’s leave it there.
Whoever follows can play it like pick-up sticks. Less than a birth
because whatever it says and is by saying, it suckled on sweat and worry
and suffering and joy and confusion and foolishness and vast red balloons
of egomaniacal dry dreams before the teat of the pencil or keypad
stroked it into wordstock, and more than a birth for the same shenanigans.
And more than divinities of whatever shape and size and sex since
those same shenanigans invented same! Give credit where credit is due –
Splat! – because when all is said and done – Splat! – all we can do
is follow the integrity of the Fugitive Poem, whether dressed as a plain-
clothes cop, or dolled-up ducky like contestants at a Michael Jackson look-
alike contest, whether empty as a girdle on the line or lined up like girders
on a beach-sucking high-rise condominium in beautiful downtown
Florida. In either case the Fugitive Poem knows what it’s like to be
behind bars (& in a few) and wants to tell us how to not be what it was
before it came down to words, knowing it’s impossible, knowing
the laugh’s on us, knowing if we knew we wouldn’t write it in the first
place – Splat! – and hearing the distant smack of a closing book or laptop.

Stanza 10 (55 lines)
A pinched, grimacing face covered in sublime inscriptions,
shouting aloud a quite brittle series of mysterious cries in a
strained and high-pitched voice shaped like an hourglass…
Fine white sand flowing through a purposeful constriction
to become its own measure of time and space and volume…
White space and silence cover the inherent noise of living
with a thin veneer of hot divinity and itching, liquid dreams
that spew into consciousness on the backs of burning words…
Burning words that curl into the ash of the Fugitive Poem as
it transforms from impulse to object of spiritual imagination…
An object impregnated with animal intensity staring into the
void while wearing the thin cloak of art, which is the only
concealment possible from the icy emptiness of uncertainty…
Only the thinnest of vestments may be procured to shield us
from the brutal and relentless emptiness of utter certainty…
A twitching voice emerges amid the brittle cries brandishing
much less imagination than that of a worm wriggling on a
rain-soaked sidewalk of fitful sleep winding through theory…
The worm begins to speak in a polyglot of symbols through
a transparent grin adhering to its toothless protuberance…
After a fine speech the worm tires of its efforts and changes
its mind, committing henceforth to only utter the most clear
and definitive statements about the ideas of mushrooms…
A young boy on a bicycle swerves down the sidewalk in the
rain, leaving the worm with a noble attitude of rotting meat…
The language of light spills through clouds of unknowing to
illuminate inconceivable immensity seen only by a wall of
spider eyes confounded by the vague, shimmering vision…
Exhaling a blue-grey vapor the spiders read the book of
clouds in a chorus of voices that ascend the Tower of Babel…
Babbling cacophony and tumultuous clamor reverberate in
throbbing patterns of simple awareness throughout a dimly
lit collective dream that collects in shallow pools of hope…
Only spirit, dream and sex can result in an authentic sense
of collectivity amid the hurdy-gurdy dialectic of pure reason…
Spontaneous collisions and arbitrary associations are blurred
by distinctions, a consumptive form of labor, that convey the
burdens and pleasures of choosing one thing over another…
Neither nature nor its witness is static, but are only known in
their constant state of perpetual flux and wide circular forms…
Palpitations emanate from the darkness of promising speech
glimmering like daemonic magic lanterns that twist and turn
into beautiful neckties from which we hang ourselves to dry…
Pushing hard pencils through the surface of the paper as the
palpitating text is inscribed to become poetry and philosophy…
A naked hand smears the lines into dry undulating rituals of
sound as they are spoken by a dancing tongue and drumming
lips sculpting the body’s hot breath in hard, chiseled verses…
In this way we sanction lunacy in small bright fragments that
we revere as content to memorize and soberly meditate upon…
Transfigured by experience and gracious recollections of it
through the fragrant splendor of memory we hurtle without
weight through space and time with a multiplying voice…
A voice that fractures and multiplies like an echo; that bears
contradiction, repetition and multiplicity in radiant patterns…


Fist of Fibonacci – Installment 4: Published on April 15, 2016

Stanza 11 (89 lines)
. . . and then: Text marks the spot. The Fugitive Poem becomes
the very thing it tries to break away from, the enlightened
worm of the sidewalks cut in two, a copy of itself.
And the Fugitive Poet becomes outraged at the outrage
committed against the worm, whose time-honored job
was to bring us all down to earth. Can you imagine?
Be. Cause. Breath is a verse. A universe. A multi-verse.
And reverse. Cola-coca! is the Fugitive Poet’s curse.
But isn’t the Fugitive Poet only as ornery
as the beekeepers of time allow her to be?
For they know almost as well as the bees themselves
the manifest Honor in ornery (remember the Fugitive
Poet named Honoré?), that it takes more than color
and buzz to get the honey, that at some level
far and away below the midnight of hives it sometimes
takes a little sting to get the honey, though the bees
will never admit this, and the beekeepers try
to forget this, though netting and gloves have something
to say about that! Meanwhile the Fugitive Poet
has stings from within that make her
buzz the silences into submission for just
long enough to set the rhythm free,
and bingo-bango! there goes the little poem
dancing its crusty feet to a sonorous
orneriness while the Scholars of the Glorious
Assumption drool with – aw, shucks! They’ve stopped
reading by now anyway! And thank goodness for that
because the Fugitive Poet long ago rattled
that rusted red caboose in her brain
and made it her semi-concrete mission in life
to stay out of little boxes on the hillside,
even the fib of a box she has made for herself
and Dr. Daretaker that is adding up to this:
In contemplation of the intimidation of the inundation
it would take to write 8ty-9ine lines – that’s practically
a barn of a stanza, livestock, hay bales, field mice,
tics, and pitch forks included – the Fugitive Poet breaks
least she’s not writing one syllable per line
and including the pauses and spaces between words
and letters, at least she breaks the making the broken
rule just made and gets back to the business – Splat!
of fugitating (meanwhile the Scholars of the Glorious
Assumption are shaking their beards and tightening
their bra straps and leaning in to confer, and there
hasn’t been this much conferring since Walt Whitman
conferred with the creatures along Elkhorn Creek)
which brings us back to bees and stings and honey
and the state of the Fugitive Poem. Because by now
we are noticing the missing planks, the space between
ribs, a skeletal barn with a holy roof that leans a little
to the left, and wants to be loved for its use and beauty,
and loves better the white horse grazing beside it
like a floater in the eye of the Fugitive Poet. Blink
and follow it and forget where you are and now
you know what it is to be a Fugitive Poet.
Which brings us back to ornery. And the possibility
that if the Fugitive Poet were to pony up and pontificate,
to issue a rebus of regeneration amid vultures on the barn,
economies of steam, and stationary fronts of progress,
she might say                                                  eventually
something like this: Practice random acts of pruning!
Sprawl your scratchings hither and yon!
Be a wall poet! A boxcar poet – minus the box of course!
Carve your love epistles into the bark of the page!
Stop and stomp with the interstate daffodils! Because really.
If all of us hadn’t come along and transformed
the wilderness into an I-Hop, there would be plenty
of stings and honey and bears to be the poets. Or poems.
But sshhhh! It’s mid-March and the redbuds are whispering.


To be continued with next MetaDada update…



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