Poetry from John Grey for the Start of the Semester: Biomath

This semester, North Dakota Quarterly is collaborating with an exciting group of University of North Dakota undergraduates who are taking a practicum in editing and publishing. This class will give them a chance to contribute to many aspects of NDQ’s regular operations. 

As the first assignment, I asked them to select a few pieces from the latest issue (89.1/2) for us to post to the blog. Their first choice was John Grey’s poem “Biomath” which they felt was particularly appropriate for the start of the semester. This isn’t the first time we’ve featured one of John Grey’s poems. In 2020, we posted “In the Hour Before Sunset” which appeared in NDQ 87.3/4. For more from NDQ 89.1/2 go here.

As you likely know, these days are particularly challenging for many cultural institutions, publishers, and little magazines. So even if NDQ doesn’t float your boat, If you can, consider buying a book from a small presssubscribing to a literary journal, or otherwise supporting the arts. I heartily recommend grabbing a copy of the new issue of Hotel Amerika which is celebrating its 20th anniversary by publishing an anthology of some its most creative, provocative, and stimulating work. Grab a copy here.


Forget the Math book,
I asked the leaf mold
if A=B + C.

Not expecting an answer.

The veins perfectly divided,
light through treetops multiplied,

but only touch and myopia
could add worth a damn.

I bent down to smell,
surrounded myself in expressions.

At the crisscross of the numbers,
I inhaled.

Breath took my breath away.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Soundings East, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review with work upcoming in West Trade Review, Willard and Maple and the MacGuffin.

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