Feb 082016



Golf Pro, Monobloc, A Theory of the Firm

I’ve been told certain seabirds travel inland
bringing cold, bewildered prey. Heavy prey.
Or that airplanes find their pilots’ fingers heavy,

so they purge their swollen bellies over grasslands.
Deck chairs, paperbacks, anything. Any falling manifest
can catch the air and zombie feather-headed down

to where it drapes its dead body on the trap by fairway eight,
or the dogleg bend beyond the reach of eager heavyweights.
I didn’t used to be like this. I made the college team

on the strength of college arms. Went bald and lost my knee.
I took the job we all take. Weak-winded, undersized,
I still drove the ball far enough to teach lessons.

But now the sky is falling. Every morning brings cast-aside lumps
or lightest finery. A monobloc chair made the tumble unslighted,
hero to its factory cousins turtled under heavy sitters.

An eight-iron away, Jensen’s A Theory of the Firm.
I pulled the chair up to reread it, bent to help
the last Sumatran spider through a crack in its cage.

One summer day: pianos. Dotted obstacles downed as if
they stumbled on a conference of cartoon antagonists.
It went on like this. We ran out to scavenge antique doors

and christening gowns. The club built a house but we moved into
the basement. Played the radio loud to drown out falling parcels.
My game slowed down but we picked up better hobbies.

My daughters learned falconry and fencing. My son wore
the pelts of soft endangered mammals. My wife found the memoirs
of some far-off Casanova and left to learn his language.

On hole four’s island, I found a bubble-wrapped trestle desk.
I dropped my clubs, pulled the chair up and my Jensen.
I have lived long enough and there is no one left unlike me.


Doomer Meet-Up, University of Toronto

A chance of rain.
Always, somewhere, there will be a chance of rain.

It’s not true what they say about Pizarro and the Mayans.
The minotaurs. We repeat that story but we know it isn’t true.


There is a certain kind of stove that refuels with only water.
If you know of any water, or can trap it.

I applied to have my road renamed Condensation Trail.
Just go to the archives and ask.

Jewish? Then I don’t have to tell you.

My grandfather farmed in silt so I suspect I have the knack.

Let’s not get distracted by video games. We are here to share skills
and to network. Who responded to the thread about lettuce?

A pamphlet on domesticating wolves.

The Mongols. Dan Carlin said they’d half-fill a cup with horse milk,
then nick the horse’s neck to mix in a half cup of blood.

We need to accept that the doom will foster monsters.

We think the end will be a noun when it will really be a verb.

No. Best to collapse the future in front of you:
You will die or your child will be taken by the dying.


Ladies and Gentlemen, the Irrational Exuberants!

Six hours later, slumped against the Bay bus sign that reads
…………….No Sunday Service,
it will embarrass you to learn the bar is not a chain.

The plastic-wrapped menu with its store of stock images,
…………….the staff’s zone defence.
Despite all this and more, there is only one Banknote,

and only one You. Go home and hunt tomorrows. All the
…………….unknotted ties in Toronto
wash their wounds in the water gushing wild from

the runoff. It was not supposed to rain. You were supposed
…………….to go to bed.
Listen to the band over a gossip of olives.

Three aging spreadsheet jockeys who had someone teach them
……………. fingerpicking
pitch the best of college radio, 1995. The dips

in their set list spell out the next recession. All the English majors
…………….in the bar are
made to wear miniskirts. Make your mind up –

on every chewable political topic of the day, do it now. This.
…………….This pivot table
in the soothed centre of your selfhood. These functions:

this payout. This is the middle-class poem
…………….you’ve been writing
all your life since you stepped into the bar.


The Italian maestro sits

on a chest of lesser flautists,
on oboe meat and things unstringed.

Pauper-prince, democrat, he lifts
his one long finger, finds the note

below the verb for first advances.
Gesture source and sorcerer;

some young souls simply buy their seats
while others are born fully clothed,

marked in major-fifth arrangements
and dusted like a bun. The Italian maestro

sits on memory; no score for five hours,
a stiff lapel away from weary soloists.

The Italian maestro sits on a trunk
marked Your Plans After College

as the trumpet stutters forward in its cage.
Given to tantrums and paid

by the day, the Italian maestro sits
through fundraising shticks

with a butt plug and cigarettes, coos
in the ears of unpaid interns.

Corner historian, five-foot-two, the Italian
maestro mounts his seat, kicks out a stand

for the cymbals stashed inside it.
The Italian maestro sits by your bed,

rearranging your books by
how much of them you’ve read.

Somewhere in the second hour tossing
in your sleep, the Italian maestro leaves.

He walks from your apartment
into the arms of someone new.

—Jacob McArthur Mooney


Jacob McArthur Mooney‘s books are The New Layman’s Almanac (2008), Folk (2011), and Don’t Be Interesting (forthcoming 2016) all from McClelland & Stewart. Folk was a finalist for the Dylan Thomas International Prize and the Trillium Book Award in Poetry. He is also the host of the Pivot Reading Series in Toronto and was the Guest Editor of The Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2015 (Tightrope Books).


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