The Reductive Sum of One

by ©Gary Zarda –  Used with permission
A poem about seeing students through the power of the Multiple Intelligences.

Gary is a former student of mine from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, and an English teacher in Rhinelander, WI. Beyond personal use, if you wish to use or print Gary’s poem, I will forward your request. Contact Leslie 

In my view

there are many rather than one.Untitled-1

Try as the system might,

they can’t homogenize

can’t standardize

by test, terms, or convenient category

what is essentially, pleasantly more than one


See the one who’s but a blurred tinkerer

the bodily-kinesthetic, whose very name

is a dance of the tongue.

Her seat is a prison, neat rows the bars.

she must move,

act, dance, sign…more, more, more.

Let her literally grasp a concept.


See the one who’s a veritable calculator

the logically math’ed, for whom

two plus two is, of course, comfortably four.

His is the world of reason and reasons.

He must equate,

analogate, Pythagorate, promulgate the world’s geometry.

Let him cut clearly if his mind so dictates.


See the world’s sorter, as this one would see you.

She’s the visually spatial.  For her,

the layout of our spaces is a known frontier.

Your chaos is her pattern.

She must lay it all out,

paint, landscape, find Zen via Venn diagrams.

Let her, by organizers, bottle Faulkner.


See the one who takes things as personal

the ultra intra guy of the inner mind

whose focus is a self-actualizing implosion

Seeking solace within versus without.

He must take pause,

journal, meditate, make note of his mood’s storms.

Let him, above all, have a moment to think.


See the one who’d prefer you’d listen

the musical one with the headphones on.

She’s putting your lecture to ball point rhythms

as others nearly come undone.

She must swim sounds,

tune timbre, make melody, be the critic analytic.

Let her put wisdom to song.


See the great communicator, gathering the world  to a position of one.

He’s interpersonal and tuned into you

“people-watching” body language and motivations

of the world’s differentiated faces.

He must reach out,

take group temperature, mediate, subtly persuade.

Let him work the crowd for good, or he might do it for evil.


See the one who sees both the forest and the trees

the naturalist of flora and fauna.

She is of and in the elements

And finds peace in the transcendental hum.

She must get her hands dirty,

test soil, scope water, read the mysteries of the sky.

Let her, nature willing, do more than discern non-living forms.


See the one who puts the world to lettered form

the linguist, the crafter of language who relishes, zealously,

sounds and arrangements of words, is keeper

of Cormier’s favored ‘embers such as September, November, and December.

He must be given voice,

read, write, speak the truly glorious word.

Let him distill the vapors of thought.


See, by close attention, the one of old soul, though young.

She is spiritually intelligent even though the intelligentsia

banish her realm to mere superstition

out of fear of the ungraspable abstract.

She must make connections,

Seek justice, believe in unity, and, ultimately, serve a higher cause.

Let her, rather than answer, simply savor the moment’s question.


These are but a few

of perhaps, many, many more

so-called, multiple intelligences,

but there is certainly more than one.

One is but a number, misused in lumping

singular individuals

into a reductive sum of one.


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