“Drinking With the Dead” by John Oughton

Poetry Pause is the League of Canadian Poets’ daily poetry dispatch. This June, Poetry Pause celebrates Indigenous and LGBTQI2S+ poets for Indigenous History Month and Pride Month! Read “Drinking With the Dead” by John Oughton.

Drinking With the Dead

By John Oughton

No thirst like

that from bones

dry to the marrow

leached and bleached.

I am alone above ground.

The dead excellent company.

They listen, wisely

adding nothing.

Do not rail at

red hawk sitting on a tombstone,

deer grazing their graves

squirrel burying its small tribute.

I take them fine brews

Belgian and German, a sip for me,

then one for the arid earth

but only for the dormant poets.

Those Eatons and Masseys

already hoisted the best.

They can wait for Molson Canadian

and like it.

So, a toast to the dead –

Their city of silence,

soft presence on the air.

Copyright © John Oughton

Previously published in Big Pond Rumours (2017) and The Universe and All That (Ekstasis Editions 2023). First published in Poetry Pause on June 18, 2020.

John Oughton is a retired community college professor who lives in Toronto. He has published six poetry collections, most recently The Universe and All That (Ekstasis Editions) and Time Slip (Guernica Editions), and a mystery novel, Death byTriangulation, as well as over 400 articles, reviews, blogs and interviews. His nonfiction book Higher Teaching: A Handbook for New Postsecondary Teachers was also published by Guernica. He is a photographer and guitar player.

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