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John Tustin
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BLACK THROAT

 

by John Tustin

 

Vomit from the depths

Of the black throat.

Black words of bile

Along the front of the shirt

And on the sheets tangled

In sleepless jittery legs.

 

I have the words

I have the words

Just not the right words

It’s all the wrong words

I write the wrong words.

 

The air is greasy–

All trans fats and salt.

The brain is fungal,

The tongue infested.

The words come out

As vomit from the depths

Of this cancerous black throat–

 

The words of bile

Dribbled along the front of my shirt

And my pants; these sheets tangled

Over the flaccid and the useless,

A few black spatters on the floor

Beside the bed

 

With the only sounds

Heaving in the night.




WORKING IT ALL OUT

 

by John Tustin

 

 

Sometimes I’m jerking off

And it’s the third time that day

So it’s more work than pleasure

And I recall for a moment

Once when the hand pulling on my cock

Was not mine

And how much better that felt.

It stops me from what I’m doing

 

And I pull up my pants and make a cup of coffee instead.

 

I sit in my chair with the steam coming from the cup

And I have a sip

Then I put the side of the cup to my cheek

And revel in its warmth,

Remembering someone kissing my cheek, nuzzling me

And then kissing my mouth

And suddenly my lips are pressed to the side of the cup

With my upper lip over the rim

And I get so sad thinking about kissing

That I can’t drink the coffee any more

 

So I decide to go to sleep

But, lying there alone with my arm around the pillow–

Well, you know what that makes me think about.

 

At this point I can’t sleep

So I pull down my pants

And get back to working it all out

Like I was trying to do

In the first place,

Damn it.




THE BRUTALITY AND TERROR

 

by John Tustin

 

The brutality and terror of his fists curling up as you cower.

The brutality and terror of being one missing paycheck to homelessness.

 

The misery of Sunday church clothes,

Of reading out loud in front of the class,

Of that pop before the tire goes flat

On the passenger’s side front

And the rain’s increasing velocity.

 

The disgust of passing the mirror on the way to the bathroom.

The disgust of your hands shaking in the night while you think about the morning.

 

The pain of your right shoulder.

The pain of those phone calls you made that went unreturned.

The pain of those phone calls you never made.

The pain of your emptiness,

Your inner poverty,

Your current of flowing nothing

Swirling downward and downward.

 

The moment after climax.

The sadness of trees fallen in the storm.

 

The brutality and terror of this life without music,

Without meaning,

Without.



AUDIBLE SIGH

 

by John Tustin

 

Another one of those nights

When the country music station plays pablum,

The rock station plays prog rock

And the tenth beer has helped produce

As few poems as the first nine.

I just pick up the beer bottle where I keep the pistachio shells

And take a swig by mistake.

Fuck Rush

And who told Hank Williams’ great grandson he has any talent?

 

Some nights are just an audible sigh

And a prayer the moment I hit the pillow.

I fall out and have no dreams

I can remember

When the alarm goes off,

Trumpeting another new day

That leads to nowhere.



ERICA

 

by John Tustin

 

It was about a year ago.

The weather was just the same as it is tonight,

All fog and gloomy post-rain puddles.

I was newly paid and looking through Backpages

When I saw Erica—

Very pretty face, about my age,

Claimed to be Puerto Rican and Egyptian

Only $75 for 45 minutes

And she would even come to me.

I sent her a text asking her if she was available

And she responded that she had no driver.

I offered to pick her up and would understand

If she did not want to and she wrote back that it

Would be no problem.

It scared me because what kind of lunatic would get in a car

With a stranger and just go to their place

But then I remembered all those fools on Tinder

So I asked for her address.

 

She was living in one of the seedy hotels and she called me,

Telling me to meet her in the back.

I texted when I got there and she came right out.

Wearing an army jacket, floral stretchpants and black boots,

Clearly fifty pounds heavier than her Backpages pics

But her face looked the same; even though it was pretty dark out

I could see that.

On the way to my place we made small talk

And I always find that excruciating.

When I buy a whore the last thing I want to know

Is a single thing about them.

I am polite, though, so I listened and I talked.

 

We got to my place and she asked to use the bathroom.

I sat on my bed and waited.

She came out and smiled at me

Then immediately began to undress.

She removed her shirt and her belly was a sagging expanse

Of wrinkles and pockmarks.

I didn’t think I could get hard for her if I tried to fuck her

So I told her I only wanted a blowjob.

I took off my clothes and stretched out on the bed sideways

As she knelt on the bed before me in just a bra and panties.

Her hands rubbing up and down my body and my balls.

I looked at her face and she looked right back at me.

I was hard in no time.

She started to suck me, no condom.

I was about to ask for one but she was really going at it –

Hands and slobbering, her head a bobbing blur.

It was just too good

And her face looked so good with my cock in it.

 

I used the whole 45 minutes and I could tell she wasn’t used to that.

I asked her and she told me that, yes, 45 minutes was usually over in 5

But it was OK I used all my time because she enjoyed “pleasing” men.

Who knows? Maybe it was true.

She sure did seem to be into it but women fool me

All the time.

 

We got dressed and she disappeared again into the bathroom.

She asked me if we could make a stop because she needed to get food

For herself and her daughter and I said we could.

I wished she didn’t mention her daughter because all I could think about

Was whether or not her daughter knew what mommy did for a living.

She wanted to go to McDonald’s and as we drove there

I asked her about her daughter

(I guess now that my balls were empty I became interested in her life).

Her daughter was in high school and knew what she did— “It is what it is”

And I imagined this poor girl hearing the buzz of my text,

Thinking I was some middle-aged pervert who saw her mother

Not as a person but as a product

Which is exactly what I was

And exactly what I did.

I wondered what her daughter thought of men.

It disgusted me to think about it.

 

I asked Erica more questions.

She worked as a receptionist for a record company in the ‘90s

And they went under.

She became a prostitute to make ends meet and the money was a lot better

Than being a cashier or a waitress.

I imagined she used to make a lot more than $75 for 45 minutes when she was twelve years younger

And 50 lbs. lighter but I didn’t ask about that.

She ate French fries as we drove and she never stopped the smile in her voice.

I asked a lot of questions and talked a little about myself.

She was not a junkie needing to feed her habit

Or a party girl hooked on the late nights and the money.

No, she was a mother with a kid, needing to make a living

And that night her job was to get me off.

Sad.

 

I dropped her off where I picked her up and we said goodbye.

I drove away, my car stinking like McDonald’s even though Erica took it all with her.

The image I had of her daughter staring out of the window wondering what her mother was doing,

If she was going to come back.

Living in a hotel, moving from place to place,

Knowing her mother fucked men for a living.

It was a maddening, nauseating image in my mind.

I saw her face, the hollow eyes.

That poor girl.

 

The rain started up again.

I flicked on the wipers

And as I moved in my seat I felt post-cum sticking my cock-slit

To my underwear.

It was one of the best blowjobs I ever had.

Her face did look good with my cock in the middle of it

As she bobbed, her hands two lovely light brown machines

Twisting in tandem.

 

I kept thinking about it.

 

I never called Erica again.



 

 

 

John Tustin's poetry has appeared in many literary journals in the last dozen in years, including Chiron Review, Underground Voices, and Rhino. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.




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