Five Poems by John Tustin



A Cradle of Fire

This life.
Again and again reliving
In my mind
A moment in this life
When I touched you
(As if emerging in a morning
To touch the dew on a stem
That seemed for years beyond my reach)
For the very first time.
Feeling the wet morning breeze,
A new sun stroking my hair
With a maternal warmth
So comfortable that
I believed I would always be kept safe
In a daily renewal
Of sea-born breezes;
In a celebration of timid light;
Held tenderly in
A cradle of fire.

This death.


I will never be over you

I will never be over you,
I realize that night upon night
As the anger mixes with the inexorable anger
That there will never be

You respond, “Ooh Johnny,”

And I get excited, and I think it –

That I will die and that you will die
And, in death, I will chase you somehow;
Be it in life or afterlife, a shaft of light,
A reincarnation or a dual-energy mingling
In some temporary beam of light

We will comingle
The way we did
On those too few nights
That we both came
And you said my name,
Our bodies as commingled then
As our souls right now.

God is found in the breath inside the breath, says Kabir.
That is where I find you.
Where I found you
Before I knew your face
Or your name
May the God who held my breath
And gave it to you
Help me.


The Memory of Ecstasy 

The memory of ecstasy,
smeared across my lips
tonight while I drink in the darkness
and think about the moments
so far away
they seem to have happened to someone else.
I look at the images of you
and I see myself smiling but I do not recognize myself
because it’s been so long.
I look at you and I look at us
and I hate knowing that such happiness is possible.
The memory of ecstasy,
Smeared across my lips
As my eyes cry the tears
Of tonight.



I don’t mind being the villain
In your life:
A boogeyman who skulks your alleys
With pejoratives and bad news,
Always armed with poisoned barbs
And whispered misinformation.
The weak-minded
And the mentally unarmed
Need their fall guys,
Their Simon Legrees,
Their Emanuel Goldsteins.
Someone to conjure up
In your children’s minds
To keep them obedient and fearful.
The bigger the bully, the more they believe
That it is they who have been pushed in the mud
And who have tilted at windmills,
Attempting dragon-slaying with nothing
But a sharpened pencil and their own
Rolled-up-sleeves moxie.

You lie to yourselves
As you push yourselves
Through and into other lives,
Intoning your particular
Line of bullshit.
As you betray and slander,
Growing morbid and morose
As you gather your troops
To gird your fortress against
An oncoming slaughter
That will not arrive.

How you are all so full of hate,
So full of shit,
So blind to colors.
Your world is black or it is white.
So allow me to stalk your nightmares
With a twirl of my dastardly moustache
And a sneer upon my lips.
You need it, you can have it.
Betray me and minimize me
As you obsess upon me
All the while.
I’m the hero, too.
You can’t do anything to alter that,
Because it is a truth.
My armor and my sword shine
Like a beacon in a few
Beautiful and precious lives.
Even my own sometimes.
So I’ll be the villain in yours.
It’s the least I can do
To serve the bottomfeeders
And mouthbreathers
Of this infinitely dank
Prison of a world.
I will consider it
Public service
And penance
For my crimes,
The ones real
And the ones


Woman in the morning

No woman has ever looked as lovely in the morning
As her
With her hair so wild
Her mouth so fiercely feline
And her eyes so dark, timid,
And nearly blind
As they opened
And told me,
“Good morning,
My love.
It’s a wonderful morning.”


About the Author

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many literary journals, online and in print, in the last decade. contains links to his published poetry online.