M decided
to turn its life
upside down
and became W

W felt conflicted
at being two selves
fused into one
and became V V

But V V did not
like being two selves
and merged acrobatically
to become N

N felt lost
having once
been part of
M and W and V

So N separated
itself ontologically
into one V and merged
with I to become Y

Y was very happy
to be made of two parts,
neither of which
revealed the other’s identity

But soon I wanted
to take over and be
on its own, so I left Y
who was devastated
by the break up
Y wanted to know
why they separated,
and I said it was too
confining being itself
and also part of Y

I was just too conflicted
to go on in that fashion
and needed some space
to be I and nobody else

So Y let I go
and became V again
with the comfortable
feeling of returning
to a previous self

But V felt lonely
and thought about
finding a new partner
with whom V could feel
a sense of connection

V was tired of dealing with
letters and their neuroses,
so V looked to symbols
for comfort, especially
mathematical symbols,
which V found was like
entering a whole new world
of magical opportunities

V happily explored
mathematical symbols
and discovered the ideal partners
in < > because
greater than and less than
accepted V for who V was—
neither less than, nor greater than
but a perfect “just plain than”

As V and < > got to know
each other, they discovered
a whole range of things
they could share, especially
as the entire world contained
ideas and experiences that were
less than, or greater than, or “just plain than”
So the perfect ending would have been
for V and > to accept each other
for who they were and become
< V >, but I was jealous of
the harmony that V and >
had found, and I wanted V
to take I back and become Y again

V was not interested but empathized
with I’s sense of loss and emptiness;
so V suggested that there was enough
space and love within > for I,
and so I was embraced by
< > and became < I > and felt complete

And, of course, M and W and
the other V wanted to be included too,
so V asked >, who said they could
handle the whole alphabet if need be,
and soon M W V Y and I became
part of > too


And < M W V V Y I > found love
for who they were individually
and who they were as a group
That is until I suggested they alphabetize
to follow conventions, and they became
< I M W V V Y >

After which, < > asked if everyone
was happy now, and the answer
from I was that being part of
< > was very nice, but maybe
being part of < >2 or < >n
might be even better


< > took this in stride as just
more of I’s egotism, but they did
ask if they could invite their
dear friends =  and + to join them


That was fine with everyone,
so the group became
<I +M+ W+ V+ V +Y> = <I +M+ W+ V+ V +Y>,
and they lived happily ever after, or, as < > described it,
they experienced a beautiful love = (to) ?


Christina Murphy lives and writes in a 100 year-old Arts and Crafts style house along the Ohio River. Her poetry is an exploration of consciousness as subjective experience, and her poems appear in a wide range of journals and anthologies, including PANK, La Fovea, Pear Noir! and Contemporary World Poetry and in the anthologies Let the Sea Find its Edges, edited by Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke, and in Remaking Moby-Dick, edited by Trish Harris and published by the South Baltic Programme of EU Art Line. Her work has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Net Anthology.

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