Poetry: Selections from John Tustin

A Bird or an Airplane

Imagine for a moment you are
The small insignificant animal you really are
And imagine you are on some vast plain
Without shade or cover for a few moments
And imagine there is something high above you
That casts a large shadow upon your helplessness.
Now, imagine you look up in the sky
And you see either a large predatory bird or an airplane:
Whether you would rather it’s a predatory bird
That may swoop down and try to devour you
Or rather it’s an airplane full of society
That will disembark and surround you with humanity
Will tell you whether you would rather die all at once in great pain
Or piece by piece over much too much time to notice it’s even happening.

Crossed-Out Lines

As I type out words
like I’m driving spikes
it’s the crossed-out lines
that would make you stagger;
the crossed-out lines
too much honesty for its own sake;
the crossed-out lines
Struck through for being too obvious,
revealing, soaked in rain and tears.
It’s far more literary to infer
than it is to exclaim
so I crossed out the last two lines
of this poem.
The end is down below, naked
but unrevealed.
Finish it

I Went There

I went there and we made love
And then I came back here.
I was going to go there again
But she told me not to come
And I did what I was told
Even though I wanted to go there again
And make love again.
She wanted to come here
But there is really no room here,
Not even room enough for me.
Maybe someday, but not now.
I didn’t say hello enough
So she said goodbye.
I went there and I wanted to go there again.
Maybe later she could come here
Even though there isn’t enough room here
For even me.
I was invited and then she changed her mind
After she knew me better.
I went there once but
I won’t go there
I didn’t say hello enough
So she said goodbye.
I think about that,
Then I brush my teeth
And go to bed.

Love was a Business

I had no idea
that love was a business to you
and that you were just a grifter
when we agreed
to the merger of our hearts.

You've emptied all accounts
and moved on to the next grift
as I cry over the falsified receipts
and file these bankruptcy papers

All checks cancelled.
Transaction incomplete.


The milk of human kindness
Is sour.
I stand in the refrigerator light,
Pouring it down the drain.
The blood of the lamb
Is curdled.
I smear it on the doorframe
For nothing.
The water of life
Flows downward
Into a darkness.

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals in the last dozen years. For a complete list of his publication credits click here