Exponential Boojum ∂ecay by David O’Neill

Once upon a graphic day, an exponential function
Extrapolated on his way, with (x) packed up for luncheon.
While making progress down x-street, in orderly transition,
A constant function, in retreat, transected his position.

“Hello, there,” said the smooth exp(x), “What’s seems to be the trouble?
You look like someone who expects disaster, piled up double.”
The constant gasped “I’ll tell you soon but first, I’d better warn ya—
A differential operator lurks around that corner.”

The exponential function thought, “Though curt annihilation
Remains the blight of constants caught in differentiation,
It can’t stop me; I’ll face that lout and be a superhero
For, even if he works me out, he can’t work me to zero.”

He turned the corner in the graph, traversing off down y-street.
He heard the operator laugh; they squared up in a heartbeat.
“The name’s exp(x); don’t even try,” he mocked the perpetrator.
“I’m partial ∂ upon ∂y,” rejoined the operator.


David O’Neill is a frustrated mathematician who has journeyed through a predominantly life-science-based medical landscape for most of his mortgage-paying professional life, eventually finding salvation in the Open University, too close to the end for practical application but sufficiently early for peace of mind and poetic inspiration.