We see them much too often now as year
By year their numbers grow, their bulging packs
Positioned all too low upon their backs
To have schoolbooks inside for vital gear,
While unkempt hair and clothes disheveled (blighting
The ambience of the shopping malls), confess
To everything except which overpass
It was they slept beneath last night. Loitering
About in public places day by day—
Gaunt, skeletal, paled by privation’s yoke—
Forebodingly these ghostlike forms invoke
A different kind of specter now, as they,
And stark foreclosure signs on lawns outside,
Proclaim prosperity’s receding tide.

by Paul Fraleigh

Paul Fraleigh was born in London, Ontario; holds a B. A. in English from the University of Waterloo; and presently lives and works in Montreal, Quebec. His poems have appeared in Candelabrum Poetry Magazine, The Raintown Review, The Lyric, Contemporary Rhyme, and The Road Not Taken, as well as other print and online journals.


“Well,” said his cellmate, “I’d have done like you.
I mean it: if I’d told my fuckin’ daughter
She had to wear a – dingus, an’ I caught her
Without it, I’d have choked her, PDQ.

“I mean, a guy’s entitled to respect.
He tells his little beaver, ‘wear your – doodad,’
He ain’t expecting, ‘who the hell are you, dad,
To tell me what to do?’ Am I correct?

“You let ’em swan around in mini-skirts
An’ low-cut sweaters, inches thick in make-up
Like Janet Jackson, one fine day you wake up
They’re in the club. Well that’s your just desserts

“For actin’ like a cream puff, am I right?
I mean, for twenty years you clothe an’ feed ’em,
Who else is gonna trim their frickin’ freedom?
An’ if they rock the boat, Irene goodnight!

“No, I’d have done what you did; well, I mean
Apart from call the cops. That was a stumper.
‘Didn’t he have the sense’, says I, ‘to dump her,
Slice at a time, in somebody’s ravine?’

“What was it – conscience? No: you’re too stiff-necked.
You did it for publicity, I’m guessing,
So any other jill who thinks of dressing
Without her – whatsit – knows what to expect.”

[In December 2007, in Toronto, Muhammad Parvez strangled his daughter Aqsa for refusing to wear a hijab. He then called 911 and told the police what he had done]

by Peter Austin

Peter Austin lives with his wife and three daughters in Toronto, Canada, where he teaches English at Seneca College. Over a hundred of his poems have been published in magazines and anthologies in the USA (including The New Formalist, Contemporary Sonnet, The Lyric, Iambs & Trochees, The Pennsylvania Review, The Barefoot Muse, 14 by 14, The Raintown Review, The Shit Creek Review, Lucid Rhythms, The Chimaera and Road not Taken), Canada and elsewhere. He also writes plays, and his musical adaptation of The Wind in the Willows has enjoyed four productions.

Table of Contents    Next Poem(s)   Guidelines