John Tustin began writing poetry again a little over a decade ago after a hiatus just as long. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.
BOOKS IN A BOX ON A TABLE
I have my books, The ones you returned to me, Sitting on my living room table, Still in the box. I removed a few, not many. The box hangs open, slackjawed. I pass it several times a day, Needing to turn sideways as I do so. I considered burning the box And all its contents But I had already tried suicide Many years ago and it didn’t take. No need to try again, I have grown since then.
The box will remain in its proper place, Open and in the way in the middle of the room As long as I reside here. It reminds me to remain romantically retired. It reminds me that you were so inclined to dispose Of my final remnants where you are As quickly as possible. It reminds me of how little I can be worth. When I lie awake at night, remembering our good days And nights, imagining one day I will walk through your door Once more, It reminds me of the other person you also are And how when you close your eyes at night And you think about me, It is only thoughts of the past.
Books in a box on a table, Open like a vomiting mouth. I climb inside and I close it, Shutting out the light and the hope. I am where I belong. Right where you put me.
A BRUTAL AND NATURAL THING
How I love you And it is a love That is a brutal and natural thing
Like lions mauling prey, Tearing some poor animal limb from limb
Or a hurricane that pulls trees from their roots And feeds drowning frogs to thankful egrets.
I take you to bed and I destroy you. You tell me you love me And I am drunkenly delirious.
How I love you And how you love me And it is a love of earthquakes, Tsunamis, the sky splitting open And lightning crackling in the heavy rain That crinkles in the leaves and the darkness.
I look into your eyes and make you cry. You touch the back of my neck and my body quivers. We walk across the parking lot toward one another And the electricity crackles From light to light above us.
We meet in the doorway and universes collapse into themselves And stars are being born As we kiss, Our bodies mingled.
I am the hunted and the hunter. You are the mistress and the prey. I am in your web. You are caught and held down in the dark. You spin me into a cocoon. I sink my teeth into your throat.
This is what it is now. It’s nature. I howl to the moon Alone With these hunger pangs. You bare your sharp teeth Looking out your window At the angry pendulating ocean
And starving for my meat Just like I starve For yours.
The hand opens and the hand closes. Sometimes it closes on something. Sometimes on nothing. Sometimes there is so much in the hand that it loses what comes to it On the closing. There is only so much room inside.
There have been times I have closed my hand and held little. Other times, just enough. Most often I have held nothing. But never have I closed my hand And held too much.
Tonight you lend me that spark of blue flame that sets fire to this page and all the pages that preceded it. I genuflect at the wriggling flames, inhale the sweet smolder and love you like I love these words, like I love myself among them, these ruins, embers, mirages of my past. Ignite the remaining dark hours until the days and it’s predictable jealousies extinguish our reverie, our ritual, our bonfire of history. The smoke spirals it’s gutsy ascension into an idea of heaven and I am humbled.
TO MY ANGEL
It’s another summer without you. My skin is tougher, the lines deeper, I sleep less and less. It seems like I dust the shelves at night And when I wake up in the morning They are coated in dust again. The dishes in the sink are always there. The garbage is always full of rotting refuse and empty bottles. Every night seems the same.
I have the poetry And I have the music And I have the occasional nights when I drink and write And think about you But I don’t have you.
It’s another summer without you. If feels worse than the winter without you Because you know I hate the heat. I make these lowing noises like a beaten cow As I lie in bed at night, tossing and turning, Waiting for the morning or the end.
To my angel – Who gave me a beginning. It’s another summer without you. I mourn the end of us as if it is a death And in some ways it surely is. There will be more summers and more winters without you Until that, too, ends. I will grow older and fatter, more ill in health Until that finally ends. Everything ends.