Peter Austin


Stop That!

You shall not bare your girlfriend’s boob
Is nowhere written in the Tube
(I.e. the London Underground),
Or fondle her Venusian mound,

So, when her boyfriend does just this,
Unblushingly pursuing bliss
While, gasping from a weeklong drought,
She yanks his John Q. Thomas out,

Their neighbours make a show of sleep
Or burrow several inches deep
Into the Times or Telegraph
(Gaffe? you can hear them say. What gaffe?)

Or, if they lack the means to hide,
Stare at the adverts, stony-eyed,
Or, with incomparable skill,
Roll their umbrellas tighter still,

And even come the simian shriek
That differentiates passion’s peak,
They merely read or roll or snore
A little harder than before,

But when, content though all asweat,
He lights for her a cigarette,
Their fellow travellers, thunder-browed,
Cry, ‘Stop that! Smoking’s not allowed!’

[Based on a true story.]


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.