Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed
before America fell in love with the Model T. Cold
Fusion would be a great name for a night-club, or
a game-engine. In the Museum of Failures, uniformed
men panic as the Hindenburg bursts its small nova,
a piñata of fire, over a naval air-field in New Jersey.
Sky-cars and jet-packs never make it past design.
Frankenstein’s monster is fiction, unless, of course,
it is a metaphor for a viable pig-human embryo, or
nuclear deregulation. Chernobyl and Fukushima are
no one’s holiday destinations. A husband awakes
in restraints on a hospital gurney after deciding to go
for one beer. Another military operation goes horribly
wrong. In the Museum of Failures, there is a whole wing
dedicated to the human heart, its ability to self-detonate,
cause catastrophic loss. The story of the body is failure
amid evolution. Success is an algorithm sifted from many
defeats. Our lives are a landscape of small failures, but
we love to look at photo albums anyways. My inner
life fails to meet my expectations. Let’s stop pretending.
Be our authentic selves. Let’s stop failing to hear one
another. I’ve always wanted to write a poem called:
“The Care-taker of Loneliness Meets a Young Courtesan”.
which is either brilliant or a terrible title. Be honest,
but not too much. Emotions are okay, but keep out
the bodily fluids, unless it is blood. In the Museum of
Failures, this poem is written on a parchment of skin,
kept under glass, beside Creationism and the Avro Arrow,
adult baby food and vegetable-flavoured Jell-o.
If you are reading this, know you have failed to remain
undetected. The authorities are coming for you.
Chris Banks is the author of four previous collections of poems. His first full-length collection, Bonfires, was awarded the Jack Chalmers Award for poetry by the Canadian Authors’ Association in 2004. Bonfires was also a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry in Canada. His poetry has appeared in The New Quarterly, Arc Magazine, The Antigonish Review, Event, The Malahat Review, Prism International, among other publications. He lives and writes in Waterloo, Ontario.