John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many literary journals, online and in print, in the last decade. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.
AS I ESCAPE THE BURNING BUILDING
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 Uselessness And obsolescence Rain rain Always rain It never Ends 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! Shine! 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) Only To go through the motions One more time