Three Dark Poems by John Tustin

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

I Think about Death All the Time

I think about death all the time:
Yours, mine, hers, his,
When I am at work
Or at the supermarket
Or sitting and drinking
As I listen to country, folk and rock n roll
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. contains links to his published poetry online.

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