Dr. KAON’s Koan

A poem written by Jess H. Brewer on the occasion of
Erich W. Vogt’s retirement party, 31 March 1994.


Born on the prairies in TRIUMF tradition,
the second of six Vogt family additions,
Erich soon showed that he loved competition,
conceived an interest in nuclear fission
and set out to overcome all opposition.

Erich took leave of his fair Manitoba
for Princeton, where he’s now a Department prober.
Perhaps his dignity still must recover
from a party to celebrate school being over,
the only time he’s been seen not sober.

Through Birmingham he continued his story
to Chalk River National Laboratory,
where Erich pursued the implacable quarry
of knowledge, while stocking his inventory
of children and accolades solemn and hoary.

Vice President Erich, we were shown,
had a will of iron, not a heart of stone.
He treated the UBC tribe like his own,
but that student reporter should have known
his position on sensitive issues was “prone.”

Despite this penchant for un-P.C. quips,
he was offered the TRIUMF Directorship.
As Erich accepted, he made one more slip:
“This is only for five years – read my lips!”
(Not counting, of course, the time spent on trips.)

In fact, Erich stayed for “two terms and a while”
as the KAON proposal passed trial after trial.
Through political intrigues like Penrose tiles,
we learned to love Erich’s management style:
“Come in with a worry, go out with a smile!”

And thus with his vision we all were infected,
and all to KAON became connected.
Oh what a relief, to be briefly protected
from “realist’s” sad, morose and dejected
predictions that KAON would soon be rejected.

They were right, I guess – KAON finally fell,
but defeat is no shame in a battle fought well.
It was wise of the bureaucrats not to tell
Erich Vogt they wouldn’t build KAON ’till Hell
froze over; we’d freeze it!
(And there they could dwell.)

Tomorrow we start with a brand new boss:
Alan Astbury is his name.
He’ll have to rewrite the rules of the game
to build new victories out of our loss.

If Alan intends to avoid any anguish,
he’ll remember our birthdays, every one,
the names of our spouses, daughters and sons,
and cheerful greetings in every language.

But one thing I’m sure he will freely confess:
he must learn to lean out of his office and yell,
VOGT!!!” with the requisite decibels
or pay for conventional public address.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *