36. Collatz Poem

Of course, we all know what the Collatz Conjecture is. Wait. You don’t? Man, have you been missing out on some serious fun! (If by “fun,” you mean restless nights spending many an hour of your lifetime wasting away wondering whether the Collatz Conjecture is correct, then yes. Fun.)

You begin with a natural number n. If n is even, divide it by 2; if n is odd, then multiply n by 3 and add 1. You repeat the process indefinitely; the conjecture is that whatever number you start with, you will always end up at 1.

When I found out about the Colltaz Conjecture, I knew I had to make a poetic form out of it.

A Collatz Poem, like the conjecture after which it is named, begins with a stanza of any collective number of syllables. Let’s say the stanza has a collective number of 40 syllables divided into any number of lines and distributed in any way.

So, from 40, as per the rules in the Collatz Conjecture, since it is even, we divide it by 2 to get 20. The next paragraph has 20 syllables in it distributed in however many lines. From 20, we get 10; from 10, we get 5. Since 5 is odd, we multiply it by 3 to get 15, and then add 1 to get 16. From there we get 8; from 8, we get 4; from 4, we get 2; and from 2, we get 1. That last stanza is one monosyllabic word. Always.

In short: 40 > 20 > 10 > 5 > 16 > 8 > 4 > 2 > 1

Again, you can start with a lead stanza with as many as 100 syllables or as few as 7. Let us know if you end up with a closing line that isn’t monosyllabic.

Source: Flickr

Air, seething beneath, knocks on earthen doors,
Leaves rustling above, where once she had danced.
Not hint of regret, not pang of remorse—
She kicks and she undulates to survive.

40 syllables


Air, seething beneath, remembers—
Joys. Pains.
Earthly chains attached to her arms—
Sharp. Cold.

20 syllables


Air, seething beneath,
Flies toward the sky . . .

10 syllables


Only to be sealed.

5 syllables


Air, seething beneath, becomes cold—
Forgets to fight, forgets to breathe.

16 syllables


Air suffocates—

8 syllables



4 syllables



2 syllables



1 syllable



21 thoughts on “36. Collatz Poem

  1. Pingback: 37. Curtal Sonnet « Poeformology

  2. i had no idea about that, and honestly, the poem is so good even without knowing the structure that lead to it, that i’m really in awe. that final “dies” simply left me speechless! bravo!!

  3. Well done. Everything in life does come down to Dies… or does it? – Just for fun, I might have ended with



    Hey, so I guess I’ll have to try this form… intriguing, to say the least

  4. Pingback: 56. Bytelle | Poeformology

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s