Essays — November 5, 2012 15:41 — 3 Comments

Fibonacci, Bread, Mathematics, And Some Mention Of Sardines And Poetry – Mark Ari

Fibonacci, frustrated by a career of mathematical obsession on the question of spirals and how they got that way, gave it all up, opened an Italian bakery and invented the lovely grilled bread—crusty and dipped in herbed garlic—that came to bear his name. Alas, it was the favorite frippery of Mussolini so, when Caesar met his meat hook, Fibonacci bread was cast into the shadow of repressed history. For a time, it could be found, though rarely, in small bakeries operated out of homes in Sicilian villages and Portuguese sailor bars where it was quite naturally served with spinach and sardines. 

Up through the 1960’s there were sporadic reports of its aroma wafting through the close alleys of Little Italy and Bensonhurst. These reports could not be substantiated.  When questioned, locals would shape their lips into pursed frowns, thrust out their jaws, fold their arms high on their chests, and sway fore and aft on their heels, nodding as they rolled.

Legend has it the recipe survives, in a manner of speaking. That is, it can be rediscovered by arranging words in the arithmetic sequence that drove it’s inventor into the kitchen in the first place. This structure, lately known as the Fibonacci Sonnet, is often associated with the Oulipo and the arbitrary constraints by which these literary entrepreneurs sought to manufacture new literatures on an industrial scale. But it is more than that. It is the hope of fine and near forgotten toast.


Fibonacci Sonnet

Two paragraphs where P1 > P2, L=Line, W=word, and S=sentence

L1(1 W)-> L2 (1 W) -> 2x 3 W (L/S ->5 W (L/S -> 8W (L/S -> 13 (L/S) ->21 (L/S)


21 (L/S)-> 13(L/S) -> 8 (L/S) -> 5(L/S) -> 2x3W (L/S) -> 1 (L/S) -> 1(L/S)

Dip in fresh pressed garlic, grill until golden brown.


Mark Ari writes poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. Most recently he’s had work published in PRICK OF THE SPINDLE and POETRY QUARTERLY. His novel, THE SHOEMAKER'S TALE, was called


  1. His novel was called WHAT?

  2. Fib Onassis says:

    Does the bottom toast start with 21(L/S) -> 13(L/S)? Should it not simply starts with 13(L/S), especially since P1 is bigger than P2

  3. Mark Ari says:

    Yes, Fib Onassis. It should.

Leave a Reply

The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney