Two Poems by John Tustin


like the first kiss
with an almost-stranger
you only kissed one early morning,
years ago.
You told yourself
that you kissed her
just to pass a little time
and you’ve believed it
ever since.

You remember the bus station
and sitting there with her
at three A.M.,
just you and her
and an old man dozing
far off in the corner

and you remember
she said something to you
that made you cry
but you don’t remember what

and you don’t know
if she kissed you first
or you kissed her first
and you don’t remember
what it all felt like,
not really.

You just remember
that you liked it,
it felt good.

You wish you could do it again
and if you did
you’d remember her face this time:
her face, her hands,
the way she spoke,
the fluttering in your stomach,
the feeling of her body against yours
and her kisses,
especially her kisses.

You tell yourself
that you’d remember this time –
not like last time
when you forgot
her words, her eyes,
all that tingling,
the way you’ve forgotten almost everything.

I Am a Lake

I am a lake, hidden from the road by trees;
A dense thicket of trees meant to obscure me, meant to isolate me.
I am a lake, small and placid and very cold. No one knows I am here.
There is not much alive and swimming beneath my surface
But it is enough that if you dip in five tenuous toes
You may feel a slight swirl of life around your now frigid foot.

No one knows I am here. I can be your secret place.
Can you feel pleasure spreading out a blanket before my ambivalence
With just a book and a light lunch to bring you comfort and satiety?
It could be deep into the season before my water is warm enough
For you to take a swim. It could be that even the whole season could pass.
You might become frustrated and leave me alone here far from the road,

Obscured by trees. You maybe become impatient and gingerly wade on in.
If you do put both feet in, I implore you not to blame me If your body becomes
Immobile from the cold. I did not ask you
      to venture off the road or dip your toes.
I did not ask you
      to salve your curiosity from the road to beyond the trees to me.
I did not ask you to do anything the way I once begged the sun to more often
Shine upon me and now ask the sun again.

John Tustin has poetry forthcoming in The MacGuffin, Innisfree Poetry Journal, SOFTBLOW, and others. He is also a previous contributor to Sparks of Calliope. Find links to his poetry published online here.

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