09 August 2010

Tuesday Poem: As you know, Bob

As you know, Bob

As you know, Bob, our numbers are dwindling. Genetic factors are to blame: our Y chromosomes, fragile to begin with, have proved uniquely vulnerable to the combination of pollution, rich food and grain alcohol. Only in the pristine environment of space can we truly flourish — but that is the preserve of a lucky few. The rest of us dwindle in protected enclosures, pacified by large-screen televisions, released only to be the subject of scientific research, the unexpected element in reality TV shows, and the providers of the litres of sperm which, carefully husbanded, will ensure the survival of the race.

As you know, Bob, the Testosterone Reduction Act of 2012 solved many of our problems. Fast cars with bored-out mufflers lie rusting in the fields, while young men knit, crochet and garden. Packs of drunk young women no longer prowl nightclubs at 3am. War is the province of old men's uneasy dreams. Children are dandled on knees, lawns are left unmowed for many successive Sundays, and our tallest peaks are no longer strewn with the frozen bodies of over-ambitious climbers. Only a lack of progress in the more recondite branches of mathematics can be termed a disadvantage.

As you know, Bob, religion proved to be the answer. Give me a boy at seven years, and in due course I will give you a sizeable bill and a New Monastic. Devoted to penury and hardship, they till the fields, herd cattle, and leaven the bread of daily life. In wooden prisons, in draughty halls, they offer shining faces and silent witness. They bank treasure in heaven to set against reproductive defeat. Nothing is to be gained by opposing them. Let us, Bob, walk hand in hand to the river.

Tim says:"As you know, Bob" was recently published in Issue 2 of literary magazine Enamel, edited by Emma Barnes. There is lots of good stuff in this issue; I'm going to post some more info about it in a couple of weeks' time, but in the meantime, you can buy copies on TradeMe!

This prose poem arose from a conversation about the "New Monastic" movement during a car journey to Whanganui. It will, I hope, take its place in my next collection, "Men Briefly Explained".

Check out all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog.


peajayar said...

Glad I read this poem on a sunny morning!
Especially like the last line.

Ben Hur said...

I am a sucker for anything which exhibits any humour and this is full of fun.

I'm curious to know if Bob is a real or fictional person the poet is addressing. It makes no difference. I'm just curious.

AJ Ponder said...

ok very humorous- and a little scary - still I can't help but think -- if this is to be part of "Men briefly explained" --- why am I more confused than ever?

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, peajayar, Ben Hur, and AJ.

Ben Hur, good question! The "Bob" is fictional, and "As you know, Bob" is a recognised trope of clunky exposition in storytelling: for more details, see


AJ, we're all mean, moody and magnificent. And that probably covers it.

broken biro said...

I can't keep up with all the blogs I've followed but I'm so glad I stopped by at yours today.

I love this poem, Tim! There's so much in here. 8-)

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Clare! As Tolkien said, "The praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards".

I know what you mean about trying to keep up with blogs: every now and then, I have a good old catch-up using Google Reader, but it's far less frequently than I'd like. I do have a good crack at reading all the Tuesday Poem blog posts each week, though.