Theory of Something

Theory of Something

Original Text

Matthew Tierney, The Hayflick Limit (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2009): 84. PS 8589 I464H29 Robarts Library

2in a glass box under rule of thumb, heirs
3to irony without the wit to appreciate it.
4Every indication is solidly in place.
5Constants of the universe stack the deck
6for carbon-based dominance--if only
7we could reckon why the numbers are.
9adrift through living room walls, for example,
11every home planet needs. Wainscotting, snake
14in the background, making us all Romantics.
15Yet however far we train the scope, a corner
17to shoot for the moon, no? Hawking entered
19there, as good as any. Soak the dishes in
20the sink, part the panel curtains. The night
21above our kitchen is newly bright. Count


1] minutens: headless stainless-steel insect mounting pins. Back to Line
8] h-bar: reduced Planck constant, i.e., the Planck constant divided by 2π, denoted by the entity reference ℏ: the quantum of action, which sets the scale of possible quantum effects. Back to Line
10] fenestration: the placement of windows in a building. Back to Line
12] Marthas: Martha Stewart (1941-), American guru of all things domestic. Back to Line
13] fen shui: "In Chinese mythology, a system of spirit influences, good and evil, which inhabit the natural features of landscapes" (OED). Back to Line
16] Neil's flag: Neil Armstrong (1930-), first astronaut to set foot on the moon, who with Buzz Aldrin planted an American flag there that appeared to be waving because it had been folded tightly and the rod holding it could not be fully extended. Back to Line
18] Stephen Hawking (1942-), whose best-seller A Short History of Time ended by claiming that understanding the universe was equivalent to knowing the mind of God. Hawking is Director of Research, Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, at the University of Cambridge. A motor neuron disease has almost fully paralyzed him. Back to Line
22] everything, but: ... the kitchen sink, that is, almost any theory that has been suggested. The comma before "but" suggests an unstated objection to this answer. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition
Special Copyright

Copyright © Matthew Tierney and used by permission of the poet. Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained from him in writing.