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

Glass Case in the Gun Shop

He tried not to breathe heavy,
staring into those glass cases in the gun shop.
He thought about breaking one of the cases
and rescuing one of the guns for himself—
then he could mask up and go out
and get some money,
more money than he needed;
then go back to the gun shop
and pay for the gun and glass case he broke

but that would be a stupid thing to do
and was almost as stupid to think about,
so he just kept looking down into the cases,
from gun to gun,
trying to pace his breath,
wishing he could afford any of them;
wanting the biggest more than he wanted the rest.

Aunt Trudy's Ruby Ring

Ever since she was a little girl,
Claire wanted her Aunt Trudy's ring—
the gold one with the fake red ruby in the center

and after many years passed
and many years of Claire not seeing her,
her aunt died.

Someone at the mortuary
took the ring off of her aunt's finger
with a spotless gloved hand

and put it in a small clear bag
for the dead lady's sister
to do with it what she liked

and when Claire's mother tried
to put it in Claire's hand at the funeral,
saying your aunt wanted you to have it;

she knew how much you liked it
Claire refused to accept it.
She didn't want it anymore.

It didn't look the same to her,
sitting in the palm of her mother's hand.
Claire's shame had taken away its shine.

Fat Boy With Four Eyes

I'm a fat man with four eyes
and I was a fat boy with four eyes
and, inside,
that's still what I really am.

I stammer
when my soon-to-be octogenarian father
asks me about my life
as if it's second grade again

and I feel the stifled laughter
when the high school girls pass
but perhaps I imagine things by mistake
as well as on purpose.

I avoid the crowds and the cameras
and never go around mirrors,
just like the song says,
but it's still not working out okay.

I take my glasses off indoors.
I like things to be blurry from a distance.
I know what it's like
to be betrayed by me.


whom I have ignored
and then resisted,
you will have your victory

and the knees that
turned from you,
once you caught up to them,
shall bend

and the head that denied you
your space within it
for so long
shall bow.

my body more listless
than a cat sleeping on the carpet,
will be eternally yours.

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