Sunday, December 26, 2021

John Tustin Ponders The Squeak In Your Bedroom Door, Being Fourteen Forever, And The Running Clockwork Keys Of The Sun


I reside in the puddle beyond your back door

Where the daylight stinks

And mosquitos spawn.

I am in your roof gutters

Strangled between the rotting leaves

And the bird dung.

I am trapped in the spider web

Spun on your windowsill, strangling

While the spider is away.

I am in your keyhole;

The squeak in your bedroom door;

The dust upon your books.

I live in the knot in your hair

You comb out again and again

After you bathe.

I am stuck in the grease

In the clog of your kitchen drain,

The cockroaches clambering over me for freedom.

I am in the drool stain on your pillowcase.

I am just where your lips

Meet the flesh of your sleep.

 I am everywhere you are.

I stalk you from the dirt and the mud

And the static on your radio.

I reside in the puddle beyond your back door

Where the daylight stinks

And mosquitos spawn,

 Rising out to dine

On the blood of the living,

Bringing pestilence and nothing more.

I am the small insignificant thing

That holds on to the mosquito’s leg,

Swatted down with it or escaping, depending.


Three A.M. and thinking about

How pretty some of those girls were

Standing on the subway platform,

Bending to adjust their socks

Or reading a book, back up against a column,

Wearing their best denim,

The trains going by and blowing their hair into their unclouded faces,

Oblivious to my glances

Or my hunger.

Thinking about the friends I had

(I thought I had)

Who flung their daggers

All along my back

As I felt not a thing at the time.

I am forty five now

But I will hear a song

Or smell a smell out of place

Yet familiar,

Or hear a coin falling to the ground and spinning

And I am reminded I will always be fourteen

Or sixteen or seventeen,

My heart a slimy frightened thing,

Beating in the shadows of the rest.

I am thinking about the woman I wanted to love

And how I was a fool and she a charlatan,

Whipping me with her duality

And her nonchalance.

I am thinking about my friend who, it turns out

Was anything but best.

 I remember names and faces

And I remember moments.

Moments when I thought I had found my tribe

And how little by little

Those affirming moments eroded with each truth

That they were not like me at all

And I was glad I was not like them

Although I wished so to belong.

Gradually I just came around less and less

And no one called me, asking me where I was.

It was right I should not be there.

One of them one day

As we were traveling by train told me,

“I don’t like you.

I don’t think we should take the train together anymore.”

Out of the blue, there it was.

The rest of them just said things about me

When I was not present.

He is the only one I respect.

He is still a fucker.

Just thinking about meeting one of them

Purely by chance on the street

Brings back my stutter

And a desire to duck into the next store,

Waiting for them to pass.

Coming close to half a century old,

I am still a little boy

Alone in his room

Crying over nothing

In the near dark

While outside

The rains falls

And falls,

Creasing the windows

From the outside.


I have not and will not forget

The blood that formed in my mouth

Like unearthed silver

The birds that swooped and glided

Before the trees that stopped their swaying

In a wind that carried you to me

For what turned out to be mere moments.

My heart, my lungs swelled with a love

That lasted longer than we

But are now shriveled and crumpled foils

 That rot on the surface of what was falsely believed

To be

A strong and fertile soil.

 I have not and will not forget

The blood that formed in my mouth

Like unearthed silver

And the perceived love in eyes

That seemed to be the turning of the world,

The running clockwork keys of the sun

 But I try

I try

I try.

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.

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