The Biggest Pratfall  Ever


1.  On poor Coyote, the world turns trickster --
reverses physics and gravity,

drops him down canyons,
blows him through cliffs.

So often he is left

with only burning desire

& a charred face.


2.  He, desperate artificer,

rigs ever more complex traps

that spring him into

the infinite,

stalled in thin air,

the prize ever unwon,

Roadrunner a fading beep-beep.


3.  Beep-beep Beatrice,

speed of a falling angel,

evades, races on,

runs painted backdrops

into real roads

& dogged Dante still aches

for that third line

to seal it up.



Beeping goes diminuendo.





What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.

– St. Augustine


Some places I have more,

others, less.
Of wisdom, I have some store
but also wells of foolishness.
I’ve turned hours and days
to memories.
Some keep the ways
of well-worn facts,

other stories

groove their own tracks.


Time, you chip away every life

some long, many brief
leaving a name on a stone,
once friends and lovers have flown
the same sky-way.

You hide yourself in rhythm,

metre, fests and

astronomical anthems.

Once we are gone,

we cannot say what you are

no matter how we interrogate the other shades

taking the cruise, plans long made,

across boneless Styx.

So timely, these tricks.




                                                                OPEN GLOSA FOR

                                                   PATRICK LANE & JOE ROSENBLATT


                                                                 A poet dies
                                                   leaving a silent O in time’s

       wide maw                              pause in
    shuffling                                       serifs marking

                                    pages now                                          left  blank.

                             There was need                                      a small fire in the

night or any                                      roving and impure viral
 thought could                                 rush in and fill
   the space with                         slogans  throwing

           shadows on those mountains


                         I wandered

             through when I was young 

     hiding out                           in hyperspace
adrift in the                               shiny vessel of

               isolation’s opaque                                cosmic shield

  but your poems                                   spoke to me, offering a
    fluid tongue, not                                   stating but singing

       signing. I wept                              back then for what
                   could not be                    undone as I weep
                              for your voices’ muting

Lines adapted from:

Those mountains I wandered through when I was young.
There was need for a small fire in the night. Still,
I wept back then for what could not be undone. – Patrick Lane, “Living in a Phantom Hut”


any roving impure viral thought
hiding out in hyperspace, could pass
through his vessel's opaque cosmic shield.

- Joe Rosenblatt, “For All the Abandoned Virgins”




While cleaning out my walk-in,
I found a small art piece:
a colour print of my naked foot
under water on a bed of pebbles,
everything wavery and refracted.

The print nestled in an old iPhone box,
fitting exactly. And I
have zero memory of doing this,
am now considering
the strong chance that this
old print crept into its nest,
and my objects are slowly
creating art of their own.





A word that expresses
the inexpressible
is missing from 
every known language

so I have repurposed
one word to that meaning.
When you savour
your enemy's downfall, inhaling

the scent of rain-washed stones
and calling the friend
who never has anything to say,
use this word.


© John Oughton


Bio:  John Oughton lives in Toronto, Canada.  He has published five books of poetry and a mystery novel titled Death by Triangulation. He recently retired from Centennial College where he was the first Professor of Learning and Teaching.  He is also a photographer with solo shows and cover credits, and a guitar player.  Visit his websites:  higher education consulting at;  writing/editing at; photography at