Three Dark Poems by John Tustin: “The Room is Yellow”, “Spitted Nails”, and “Stigmata Blood”


The room is yellow.
The yellow of withered fruit,
The tinge of mildew, sickness,
The haze of misremembered bad dreams.

The room can only be yellow.
Never red or green
Or purple
Or even blue

Because the room has never held you
Within it
As I have and
As I do,
Although I cannot hold you without

The room has never held you as you slept
Or stared into you as you laughed
Or cried
Or came
Or seen you dress
Or heard your whispers
Both tender and tranquil.

I would give anything
For this room
To be green or red
Or purple
Or even covered
In the sad pall
Of blue

But the room is yellow
And my soul is blue and bruised,
Covered in this yellow film

Like diseased and turgid


I lie upon the rack
Spitting nails into the air
That land upon me –
Pointing down and driving into my flesh.

Again and again I spit
And the metal missiles itself upward
And then dives downward,
Into me, into me, into me.

I do not spit fire. 
I do not spit ice.
I do not spit calm or salve
Or paint or passion or knowledge or love.
I only spit nails that hold me fast and immobile.

I have never spit out that key
To fit the lock
That fastens the chain
Held to me
By all those spitted nails
Although the key has resided in my belly.

It sits there still.
I spit another nail that aims for the sky
And falls
To my flesh.
I spit and I spit.


Leonard Cohen is dead after ohming for years in the ashram
And leaving his offerings of written flesh from time to time
In piles in the middle of the street
For the flock to ponder.
Rumi whirled like a dervish for the Lord
And Allen Ginsberg sang Kaddish
Into his grandmother’s old black shoe.

Meanwhile –

Tonight, like every night,
I lie in this bed alone
With the 
Stigmata blood soaking
Black, thick and homely 
Right through the brains
Of my coarse gray bedsheets

And onto the endless cosmos
That is my floor.

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

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