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Failing Science

One thing any scientist understands is failure.
Many research projects fail to produce results
and nature’s own products often suck
—look at a duck: you think it’s going to
survive natural selection? A quack in New Jersey
and bam: mutation, extinction spiral.
Look at geology. An ocean jumps up
and becomes a mountain. What are you?
Drunk? Lonely? Take a tree or any old
stalactite that you might care to examine:
any scientist worth his lab coat
will use spectral analysis to show
the fire of failure burning through its whole
pathetic structure—a layman might call it elegant
or poignant, but scientists never succumb
to affectation. Like a Pollock, any object is nothing
but a trace of its composition and all
composition (contrary to inflationary
trends) fails. Beneficial mutation
overruns glaciers. Drunk uncle
drowns with his pants down.
When the oxygenated layer clips shut
eons perish with syntax. F.
One study recently published in the journal Nature
illustrates precisely the depth and breadth of failure:
the universe itself was studied with orbital
radiation spectroscopy and what
did they discover? This expanse of supposed
perfection was actually meant to be a lot bigger
and formed in the shape of an eagle.
But after several misfires, flaws, aborted
sequences and dissolutions, we ended up
with this splat—shaped like a sombrero, they say,
so I guess someone’s out there taking a nap.


Seeking Latino Star Wars Enthusiast—Must Love Dogs

for Juan

My sleeping Bichon’s stomach’s making
Star Wars light saber fight scene sounds.
If you’re like me you wonder:
is it because the dog (sometimes—despite
our best efforts) eats his own poop?
Or is the inside of my dog
somehow like that Death Star dock where,
after a long duel at the bottom
of the Millennium Falcon’s loading ramp
Obi Wan Kenobi’s slain
by the Jedi he trained
who wound up following the dark side call?
Of all the thinking you’ve ever done
about Obi Wan—how he had to witness the destruction
of Alderaan, send Luke off to Dagobah
for the Yoda scenes, how he always seems so patient and wise
like the father everyone never had and maybe
how it never seemed quite
plausible that someone that elegant could be
so bad-ass with a light saber—think now:
have any of these Kenobi conundrums
ever led you to question
whether a Latino man named Juan somewhere
might live with the nickname Obi Juan?
Fan of Sir Alec, could he be
an anglophile, collector of Diana-iana?
Could the nearly Irish lilt he affects
as he comments like the BBC on daily events
be a huge hit at parties?
Could his old orange Volvo
have OBIJUAN plates?
Could his swarthy physique and fulsome mustache
attract a striking assortment of romantic partners?
You might not believe it
but I know the man. You should believe
everything people tell you.



William Stobb is the author of five poetry collections, including the National Poetry Series selection, Nervous Systems, and Absentia, both from Penguin Books. Stobb works on the editorial staff of Conduit, chairs the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission, and teaches on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.