Peter Austin


Good Afternoon

The doctor scratched his itchy metatarsals:
“So, how’s the medication: migraines cured?”
Said I, “My hair is falling out in parcels,
Against which I’ve been told I’m not insured.

“I’ve dropped a dozen pounds, have diarrhea
And (even when I’m empty) noxious gas;
My skin has mottles redder than sangria
Extending from my neckline to my ass;

“My vision’s blurred; I can’t get an erection;
I’m suffering from numbness of the feet,
A dry mouth and affective disconnection,
On top of which, it’s torture to excrete!”

“I see,” said he, “but what about the headaches?”
— “I’m dizzy, doc: there’s ringing in my ears;
I cannot eat; my skin is shedding dead flakes;
I’m bothered by unreasonable fears;

“Your medication’s fucked me up, you bastard:
My t-t-teeth are chattering, in June!”
The doc said, “Quite, but are the migraines mastered?”
— “Well, yes,” I said. — “Bravo! Good afternoon.”

Peter Austin is a retired professor of English who lives in Toronto, Canada. He has published five collections of verse, the latest being Snapshots (Fall, 2018), plus a verse novel. In a previous incarnation, he was a playwright whose greatest success came from a musical adaptation of The Wind in the Willows, which has received four professional productions.