Peter Austin


The Playground

It’s partly thanks to Esau
The playground’s like it is:
He tumbled off the seesaw
And landed on his phiz

Which prompted him to blubber,
Although he wasn’t hurt.
The surface, now, is rubber
That, up till then, was dirt.

The monkey bars have vanished
As if they’d sprouted wings,
By borough bigwigs banished
Together with the swings.

Like them, the pool was fun-filled,
With tousled heads besprent;
It’s silent, now, and unfilled
Excepting by cement.

The purge has been so thorough
The site’s completely nude,
But—praise the Lord!—the borough
Is safe from being sued.

A Wedding

When Jill, in Rome, ran into Joan,
They reminisced, con brio,
About the good old college days,
When Dot had made a trio.

“She tied the knot?” cried Joan. “With whom?”
—“A guy she met while sledding;
Some nabob’s heir, by all accounts;
You should have seen the wedding:

“Her gown was silk organza, gemmed
With emeralds and rubies,
So wholly off-the-shoulder, it
Was hardly on her boobies.”

“How many bridesmaids?”—“Six, in green,
With matching shoes, and posies
Of lace and English ivy, wrapped
Round tiny ruby roses.”

“It must have been a ton of work.”
—“It was, girl, for the planner.”
—“And where was the reception held?”
—“Some place called Bagshott Manor,

“With views across Lake Pendleton,
And booze to float a schooner,
And food enough to fill it, and
A silken-suited crooner.”

“And how’s the marriage?”—“Down the drain.
You knew where it was heading
Before she got the garter off;
But God, that was a wedding!”


They sit on bar stools, drinks in hand
Or stand together pissing,
Of Ireland’s sadly distant land
Forever reminiscing,

Where all year long the grass is green
And spring’s a maiden’s whisper,
The air of August velveteen,
December’s scarcely crisper;

Where football’s not a game for pups
But he-men, hard as boulders
Who’ve greater need for D-sized cups
Than padded chests and shoulders;

Where pipe and tabor bid you, “Hop!”
From right to left to right foot
Instead of weeping, to the slop
Of Gordon bleeding Lightfoot.

But, if you said, “I’ll pay your way
To Wexford, or Killarney”
They’d look at you, as much to say
“You’re full of feckin’ blarney!

“What?—give up skis and snowmobile
And summertimes that sizzle
For, ‘Keep your meat-hooks on the wheel!’
And year-long bleeding drizzle?”

And then, they’d turn their backs on you
And swig their pints of Guinness
(“Raccoon piss, to the stuff they brew
In Sligo, right lads?”)

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 lives in Toronto.