Before Another Midnight of Mindless Work
Standing before the mirror Before another midnight of mindless work For meager pay I find my legs pasty and ridiculous In my boxers; My hair a mess, My body rumpled, This unshaven face a patchwork of middle aged lumps And crags. Red eyed, I creak and groan as I put on my pants, Sipping another cup of coffee, Still cold to my bones. I have to get used to being alone again And finding that my ugliness is endearing To no one, Certainly not me and Not even you Anymore.
I Think about Death All the Time
I think about death all the time: Yours, mine, hers, his, Ours. When I am at work Or at the supermarket Or sitting and drinking As I listen to country, folk and rock n roll Music I fill in the spaces of my thoughts Imagining my death And yours And theirs. The room grows dark And my heart grows dark And I think about my impending death And fill with curiosity. When I die Will you honor me, will you cry for me? Will you still deny me like Peter denied Jesus, Like a child unwilling to repent? As the years pass after I am gone, will you be washing dishes And looking out the window, Seeing the clouds passing over the tempestuous bay Before a summer storm, Think of me suddenly and shudder with loss? Will you even remember me? When I die and then you die Will we meet in the valley Under a crescent moon And finally hold hands as we make a vow Or will my energy just wallow aimlessly With the ashes of my spent useless body? I think of everyone and I think of their deaths: Anne Sexton breathing in poison, rowing away from God. Adams and Jefferson holding hands and dying together And hundreds of miles apart. The death of Christ In agony on the cross. The death of my mother And the death of your mother. The death of Gram Parsons and Gene Clark, Drunk no more, singing no more. The death of Augustine of Hippo Who said “Wipe your tears and do not cry, If you love me. Death is nothing.” Life is everything.
We, the Many
We, the many Who will not live beyond decay, Who memorize the words of others, Who worry about our oil changes, Who live with little or no love, Who scribble paeans and suicide notes All over the bathrooms of our madhouses While the days become nights become days As quickly as the flicking of a switch; We salute you – You, the few Who have made the lives of us Who will not live beyond decay, Somewhat bearable With your words and your deeds That will not, cannot, Shall not rot.
John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.