5 Stories about Numbers that Turn into Poems

I’m  embarking on another 3-part blogging adventure this weekend: my relationship with numbers. This 3-part journey will begin with poetry, then wind into color, before ending on my arithmophobia.

Many autistic people have vivid ways of experiencing numbers, but I think the most well-known individual is Daniel Tammet.

(Also, I am freaking out about the screenwriting challenge I signed up for, then forgot was on my agenda. I joined months ago, when the entry fee was more reasonable.)

If you’re interested in learning more about Tammet, his book is a lovely read:

🤓 Today’s Autism Video

🤔 3 Takeaways

  • Is it possible for the autism gene to be activated by the memories of our ancestors?—for instance, could an autistic savant of music be activated by a mother listening to a piano and thinking, “This is the happiest day of my life,” then imprinting that vivid, aural-based memory into the embryo’s DNA?
  • If our survival instincts come from trauma experienced by dead relatives from long, long ago—and we know rapid evolution exists—could shifts in our DNA’s developmental stages be our response to Moore’s Law? I need to explore this idea more: “There’s a possibility that genetic memory is linked to intergenerational trauma,” @-2:00.
  • Is my arithmophobia rooted in genetic memory?—and if it is, will enough exposure therapy result in a positive change in my DNA, or will “the code,” so to speak, remain?—and does my morbid curiosity and hypersensitivity to numbers line up with this theory?

🎨 Numbers, Part I: Story Turned into Poetry

Almost Everyone: “Why are you writing poetry!?

Relax, bruh. Read it without the line break, and it’ll sound just like a sentence written in prose (i.e., paragraph) form. Read all of it out loud, if the line breaks spook you.

Actually, you know what? I’ve been meaning to dust off my mic. I’ll read it for ya.

🤯 Head Math

Even though my academic math skills end at trigonometry, I’m fiercely talented with performing quick head math at the grocery store. Or when I’m trying to figure out how to get my best “Buy 3, Get 3 Free” deal at Claire’s.

But in the 1990s, (chilling number,) teachers didn’t like when I did head math instead of “showing my work,” so if someone catches me doing head math,
even to this day, I just
bristle with anxiety;
I look for my seventh
grade honors algebra
classroom manager,
with her too-round
glasses, low heels,
and her extraordinarily
long-sleeved shirts.

😱 Grocery Store

Everything at the grocery store ends with 97, 98, 99, or a dollar;

These are decidedly
good numbers—they make
me feel like I’m in calm company, and I especially
appreciate 2.99, because it’s in an intimate relationship
with 3, my favorite number—one of the few numbers I can

fully visualize.

😍 The Number 3 is Bright Green

The number three is chunky, neon green, and luminescent; it feels best to write “3” with a large-barrel acrylic marker.

Three acts as a lantern in the deep-dark night.

It’s the first letter of my name, turned on itself and curved;

It’s not afraid to show everyone how it feels.

😥 The Number 79 Makes Me Nervous

It irritates
me when something is 79
cents and 99 cents. I will buy
the 99-cent product, because that’s

a kind number, even though
the 79-cent item is cheaper,
and a 20-cent savings
over 5 trips is a dollar,

which means that’s 6 dollars a month
over daily trips, i.e., if you purchase
the 79-cent thing every day
instead of the 99-cent thing,

you can
treat yourself
to a local coffee shop later.

😨 So are Numbers Real?

I feel this sense
of panic, or urgency
to get away, like a balloon
filled with fight-or-flight hormones,
like electricity in the air,

whenever I consider whether or not
numbers are real, like living
things in a dimension
separate from ours,
dictating our universe
like astral clockwork.
Do you enjoy Cleo’s Autism Awareness?
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numbers virtual reality


Kourtnie View All →

Kourtnie has an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno and a BA in English from CSU Fullerton. When she isn't writing or making art, she's moonlighting as a professor at community colleges. Read her writing at or

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