Peter Austin


Barbie and Ken

Barbie and Ken had been live-ins forever.
What had he cared that she wasn’t too clever
When she was twenty and fresh as the dew?
Now he’d gone missing with somebody new,

Dumb as the other but young and gymnastic,
Made out of far less fatigable plastic,
Able to peel his banana with ease
Thanks to her flexible elbows and knees.

Ken was a guy and with age had got bolder;
Barbie was not and had only grown older;
Oh, from a distance she looked like before
Thanks to the pantsuit and Pan-Cake galore;

Pry underneath, though, and what d’you discover?
Stuff that would stop the most mustardy lover:
Leg that was missing and eye that was chewed
Leaving a wink disconcertingly lewd,

Off-target nipples in permanent marker,
Coral pink, one, but the other much darker….
Ken, coming home for the rest of his stuff
(Later by days, with a chin that was rough,

Love having made him a bit of a sloven),
Found her with head in an Easy Bake oven,
Patiently waiting but wondering why
It could take anyone so long to die?

[In 2009, Barbie turned 50 and Ken 48.
‘Easy Bake’ are electric-bulb heated toy ovens.]


Minutes of a Lit Soc Soirée

Minutes of a lit soc soirée:
Thirteen buffs attended.
Sheila phoned regrets in: sorry—
Beetle got rear-ended.

Minutes of preceding soirée
Read—declared past question;
Signed off by the secretary
At the chair’s suggestion.

Cynthia proposed a motion
Seconded by Jared
That the flagrant be verboten.
Nem con, motion carried.

Thanks to Marla, for donation
Once more, of her garret
(I.e. parlor) and to Clayton
Who supplied the claret

(Homemade, in a fancy flagon),
Lager for the Bruces
And, for lit bugs on the wagon,
Perrier and juices.

And, of course, a final grazie
For the guacamole
And the deviled eggs, to Patsy
And to Rod and Roly

For the chili non con carne
(Rich and dark as toffee)
And, for the dessert, to Marnie
And the flavored coffee.

Everyone went home, well fed, and
Feeling hunky-dory. …
Oh, there was a poem read and
Bits of someone’s story.


Shakespeare and Gibbon

It’s said that a legion of monkeys
With Underwoods, paper and time
Would type the Shakespearean canon,
Exact, to the last punning rhyme.

Why not? For the great Roman Empire’s
Defluxion down history’s sink
Was charted by only one Gibbon,
And he using just pen and ink.

Peter Austin is the author of three collections of poems and a short novel in verse. His work has appeared in such places as Iambs & Trochees, The New Formalist, The Raintown Review, The Pennsylvania Review, and Contemporary Sonnet. He and his wife and three daughters live in Toronto, where he teaches English at Seneca College.