“Why I Am Not a Scientist” by Robert Funge

Robert Funge


Now that science has discovered that cod
get seasick in a storm, and that halibut
(and probably other fish—they’re waiting

on a federal grant of five million
to study the subject) pass gas, perhaps
it’s time to move on. We don’t really know

how salmon change sex
when the going gets tough, how the swan
finds a mate for life, or the swallow

Capistrano. And there must be more to learn
about the hibernation of bears, and why the Cubs
can’t win a pennant. Let’s find out why

the whale beaches itself,
the drinking habits of certain birds,
and how the monarch takes four generations

to migrate north, then another four
back south, and how each generation
returns on time to a place they’d never been.

How can they remember what they never knew?
when in one generation I can’t remember
where I left my keys. Let’s study that.

Let’s study why the long forgotten
flashes into a mind that goes blank
on what he had for breakfast, and mixes

the names of his grandchildren. Let’s determine
why an otherwise serious poet doodles
gibberish when he could be creating

esoteric balderdash. Or better yet
let’s just study that which retards
the advancement of our civilization,

like spending five million on seasick cod
and flatulent halibut, or half a minute
on a bored poet with equally bad habits.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006


Robert Funge: “I live alone in a library. I’m retired and busier than ever. I write poems to make sense of the past, and because it’s fun. Always both. These poems reflect his life, his imagination and his idiocrasy.”

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