JOHN TUSTIN – CUT OFF

CUT OFF

I used to rush home from work,

Especially if I knew my wife wasn’t going to be home yet

And if some asshole tried to cut me off

I’d gun it and curse him out,

Sometimes as we drove side by side.

I wasn’t going to take that shit,

I got cut off enough when I was home with my wife.

I would drive home and the best days were the days

When I had some time to myself before I had to pick her up.

Oh, the feeling of false freedom in those precious minutes!

Later, another good time was reading to my children before bed.

After they would finally fall asleep I would lie in bed with my son

And elongate the moments before I would have to get up

And get into bed with Her.

If I fell asleep in his bed or pretended to she would come and get me.

Finally I had had enough and I told her I wanted a divorce.

Her reaction was to unleash Hell all at once

Instead of little by little like she had been doing for fifteen years or so.

I lost everything and just about everyone I had

But now if I get cut off in traffic

I just stare in wonder at the taillights

Of whoever feels they need to get somewhere before I do

Thinking about a time that feels like decades ago

But was much less than that

When I decided a life of boiling pasta alone in an echoing kitchen

Was better than a living death in a house filled with anger

And that final day that

It was as if I was Yertle the Turtle

And I sneezed down there

At the bottom of the stack

And that bitch came tumbling down.

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JOHN TUSTIN – SHOWER, SHAMPOO, SHAVE, SHIT

SHOWER, SHAMPOO, SHAVE AND SHIT

So I was drunk

And the big storm was coming

And I decided I wanted to hear Luke the Drifter.

I get up after a few songs and the darkness has fallen already.

It goes from light to dark in the time it takes

To shower, shampoo, shave and shit

In this place.

Luke gives way to The Stanley Brothers,

The Louvin Brothers.

The night will end with Bob Dylan telling me

The levee’s gonna break.

I look out my window and see nothing but calm,

Darkness.

The storm is coming. Or it’s not.

I can only wait.

Whatever happens,

Be it cleansing or drowning

Or nothing at all.

Let it happen.

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poetry: john tustin – frying potatoes and onions

FRYING POTATOES AND ONIONS

I woke up and coughed my disease into the sink
And then I pissed and brushed my teeth.

It was when I started frying potatoes and onions,
Potatoes I cubed and an onion I sliced in this same room
Where I now sit and type,
That I began to think about you again,
For the third time that morning.
We were in my old apartment and it was after one A.M.
You were hungry and I made you a bacon and egg sandwich
The way my grandmother used to make one for me on Sunday morning
When I stayed at her house as a teenager.
You were so grateful, so filled with happiness
That I was doing something that is really so small
Compared to what I would be willing to do for you
And you kept saying how delicious it was,
Us warm and still vibrating from our hours
Going back and forth in bed.

Every object in the room brings a memory,
Every toss and turn in bed brings flames of fetid anger
Simmering in my stomach.
Now the rain has stopped and the fog is rolling in
But never enough that I cannot still see you
Delighting in every moment with me and steeling yourself
For when time would suspend our moments for another week
Or two.

It feels as if you are as dead as my grandmother
Or my mother
Instead of just gone from me and me alone
And when I think of you all that exists is mourning
Because it is still so new.
The potatoes, the onions, the spices
Clench themselves at the pit of my stomach
And all my eyes can see are things that are not here
And all my heart can feel
Is a phantom pain for the love we had
That you let suffer and die
All for the sake of the congruity
Of a false and moldy
Paradigm.

So I went back to bed,
Coughing again,
And wishing
For another night
Where you were still alive in my life,
Oblivious to your secrets, your artifice,
And the fraud of your extended silence

 

~

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