Queen's Quarterly

Queen's Quarterly
Queen's Quarterly

Toy Store

Gerald Arthur Moore

“Harry Bennet lived here
before the toy store;
now he’s over there,” Dad said,
thumbing toward the graveyard.
Newman’s Toys housed
petrified pink and orange rabbit’s feet,
kites with wide bloodshot eyes –
peering madmen,
seductive stick candy soliciting
by the register, scarlet paper ribbon
punctuated with black dots,
spooled through and under
the hammer of my first cap gun,
quickly took up incautious
trigger guard twirling.                        

Constable Bennet
once arrested my father
for calling him a buxom bastard.
Nine years old at the time of his
criminality, vanished through
narrow hedgerow gap, taunting
from veil of hawthorn.
A fortnight later, caught my father
by the ear,
took him to Tommy Beech’s Garage,
asked to borrow a car
supposedly to drive his prisoner –
now on tiptoes,
down the Niagara Escarpment
to Barton Street Jail in Hamilton.
Tommy played along, “How long will he
serve in the clink?”
“Nine or ten years, I’d say, Tommy,
if he behaves.”

Lightning storm, years later, took
his pistol, in the flashing strobos of
chaos and shot the Anglican church
to death. Must have been mad at God.
If you look with binoculars
the pock marks are there today,
resting craters in belfry limestone,
five rounds into block façade;
then went inside, sat down,
spun the cylinder of his .38,
like the empty hexagonal
wax cells of honeycomb,
a golden round passing
the gun-blue breech chamber,
a circling reflector
clicking like our bicycle wheels.


Gerald Arthur Moore is an adventurer, a part-time university lecturer, and a high school teacher in Moncton, New Brunswick. He is the author of the play Just Another School Shooting (available through Heartland Plays Inc.) and the poetry collection Shatter the Glass, Shards of Flame (NON-Publishing, 2018). He received the Pub House Books Chapbook Prize in 2019 for Trigger Fingers. Moore is getting the hang of teaching during a pandemic. He ends each class with, “Be good. Don’t steal anything. Come back to me sober. And girls, remember, boys lie.”