Beyond His Ken

based on a true story

The plane was in the skies above Beijing
When, let us call her Joy, a stewardess
With China Eastern Airlines, saw the ring
And heard the heartfelt words, and answered, ‘Yes!’
Those near them, who beheld the ad hoc scene
So charmingly enacted in midair
(Including some lined up for the latrine),
Gave an ovation to the happy pair.

In no time it was through; however, then,
The Head of Personnel (who took the view
That all was ill beyond his blinkered ken),
Called what she’d done a threat to those who flew
But, worse, to what the corporation grossed
And instantly dismissed her from her post.




Satoshi Uematsu killed nineteen disabled people and injured two dozen more while working at the Yamayuri-en residential centre in Japan, in July 2016.

The man showed no emotion in the dock,
Even when he was told that he would swing;
If anything, his mouth appeared to mock
Both judge and sentence, as a little thing
Of no import. And just what had he done?
While working in a care home, stabbed to death
Nineteen disabled inmates, not for fun
But (this he’d maintain till his final breath)

To rid the world of ankle-binding fetters
Who impeded progress and ought to be
Hacksawed away and buried by their betters.
This was what Hitler (couldn’t people see?)
Had tried to do, for society’s good
But, by the stupid, been misunderstood.



Who He Was

Joshua Evans died in a Nova Scotia hospital on September 11, 2018.

Coming on kiddy porn, he shared it round
Till he was busted. Waiting to be tried,
He languished in a cell, where he was found
Unconscious from attempted suicide.
A pair of paramedics thumped his chest
Despite which, he died in the ICU.
Before you say, ‘That’s karma at its best!’
Know this: he had the mental age of two

And, in the cell, alone, so fretful grew
He tried to hang himself. Let us not make
(Having hindsight’s leisurely backward view)
Unpitying officialdom’s mistake:
Scorning the Delphic dictates of his id,
Confusing who he was with what he did.



Peter Austin is a retired Professor of English who lives in Toronto with his younger two daughters.

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11 Responses

    • Peter Austin

      Thank you very much for publishing my poetry. I read and enjoyed ‘On the Dangers of Internet Pornography’ (if ‘enjoyed’ is the right word: I certainly appreciated its skill and sincerity).

  1. C.B. Anderson


    I’ve been reading your poems for years, and you never fail to make them syntactically flawless and replete with razor-sharp ideas. Your work should serve as a model for anyone who wishes to write a lucid and interesting poem.

    • Peter Austin

      Thank you very much for your encouraging words. It is to be read and appreciated that I write, and especially to be read by those who truly understand what I try to do.

  2. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    All three of these poems are educative and eye-opening. Everyone should be aware of the evil and cruelty in the world around them, and poetry is a perfect medium to bring attention to those things. Thank you, Mr. Austin

    Evan, this is the first time I’ve had the privilege of reading this particular set of poems. They do exactly what they’re meant to with clarity and aplomb. Thank you for alerting us to them.

    • Peter Austin

      Thank you for your feedback regarding my poems. It is very encouraging to receive and the best spur there is for writing more.

  3. Mike Bryant

    Mr. Austin, Susan and I read some of your work on the hypertexts website. Your poetry is affecting and stunning. You have documented some amazing and terrifying pieces of history. The Lesson and Reena Virk were particularly hard-hitting. Your style of poetry is powerful.

    • Peter Austin

      Thank you very much for the feedback. It is a great encouragement to me, and I’m truly flattered by your remembering some poems that I wrote quite a few years ago.

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    About “Misunderstood,” there are more and more persons in the world who believe exactly what Satoshi Uematsu believes about mass murder of the weak and defenseless. Thank God Japan still has the death penalty.

  5. Margaret Coats

    “Misunderstood” reinforces the stories presently coming from New York nursing homes, where the apparent culprit, who refuses to accept any blame, is someone much higher placed than a deranged employee (employees and administrators seem to be helpless despite their best intentions). “Who He Was” and “Liu Haixiao” and “On the Dangers of Internet Pornography” currently speak regarding individuals suffering the dangers of indefinite isolation. In the midst of all this, it is heartening to read the story of Joy in “Beyond His Ken,” and to hope that she was able to marry and find another job. Life and love go on, with the Creator bridging the gap at the end. Thank you, Peter and Evan, for this group of poems addressing human worth and dignity.

    • Peter Austin

      Thank you very much for the feedback on my poems. It is most encouraging, and the best spur there is to writing more.


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