John Tustin

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many literary journals, online and in print, in the last decade. contains links to his published poetry online.


As I escape the burning building
From the middle floor
Shimming down tied bedsheets
Fastened to the iron bars on the window
I finally chiseled away
I realize all my love letters to you
Reside in there
About to blacken and crumple
And burn to dust
And I fall to the ground
Lucky to only break my leg
And as I writhe there
On the winter hardened yellowed lawn
I do my best
To give the audience
A smile


Rain rain
Always rain
Rain all the time
See it fall heavy on the branches
And drown the overtaxed soil
Rain rain
Always rain
Marching down in driven columns
Raging stinging wires
Daggers cold and merciless
Digging into the earth
Rain rain
Always rain
Buried beneath its blankets
Neither warm nor safe
She wears a talisman
She seeks the forbidden
He tumbles like the rain does
Bankshotting off of the precipice
Slipping in the dark
On the stones
Slick with the
Rain rain
Always rain
It won’t stop raining
In these ditches
On these streets that are dead
But unaware
Of their very real
And obsolescence
Rain rain
Always rain
It never
There is no tomorrow
There was no today
And yesterday was
A mirage
Whose memory
Is drowned anyway
In the
Rain rain
Always rain


I think about you sometimes
When I am listening to country music
And drinking my endless beer.
I think about what we deserve
And what we don’t
And I think about how you would look
On top of me, your face just an inch from mine,
Anticipating that kiss.
I think about that first kiss.
I think about other lives;
I think about the possibility of endless lives
And I think about us.
How I think about us!
How if this life were another
And how we could shine!
How we would shine! Us!
If this life were another how we could shine.
I would wake up in the morning
And say “Look at us! Look at us shine!”
To a sun that would be weak by comparison.
This life is not another life
But the one life that we have
And must live or not live.
You with your cracked windshield and your fear,
Me alone here without my love or my children –
Both of us alone tonight,
As dull as a nickel on the nightstand
And feeling the same worth
In spite of our potential
To shine.
To shine.


The snow drifted down
Like sprinkled white pepper,
The wind blowing it down upon my hair,
My eyebrows, my cheeks
The wind shaking it off of the elevated train tracks
Upon my head, my shoulders
As I climbed wearily
Back into my car
With greatly exaggerated exhalation of breath
And throbbing of eye,
Aching legs and back
Sitting there and turning the key,
Strapping in tight
Huddled from the cold
On my way to the next destination
(Staked out for me on the map
By my masters and my fate)
To go through the motions
One more time

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