“Break the Clasp” by John Tustin

She keeps the banjo Jay bought her
Right beside her bed.

Alex painted her portrait
And it sits on the bedroom wall,
In view of her sleeping body
Night after night after night.

My 500 poems written about her are in a drawer,
Underneath some blankets and a book beneath her bed.
My photo is turned down, wrapped in a shirt in another drawer.
She used to keep it at work, so I was told.

She is going to start practicing the banjo again.
It’s important to her.

The painting by Alex,
Her daughter remarked how much she liked it.
She has no idea who painted it and wouldn’t know his name,
Anyway.

She tells me she will always love me.
She doesn’t love Jay anymore,
Hasn’t for a decade.
She never loved Alex, not even a little.

In another world
All the poems I wrote for her paper her walls.
Before bed she chooses a different one each night to read.
In another world.

In this world
I will always be relegated to the closet,
To be brought out
When the parents or the children are asleep.

She keeps me in a locket.
A locket that she never wears.
I lie in between her spare bedding
And some forgotten boots,
Pushing outward;

Trying to break the clasp.




John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals in the last twelve years. His website contains links to his published poetry online.

“Run Out of Love” by John Tustin

It has happened –
The days run together all the same
And I don’t know if I spoke to you
A day ago or a month.

I wait for you to contact me
And if you don’t
Then we just won’t ever speak again.

The sun coming into the room in the morning
Feels like the stormtroopers bursting in,
Turning drawers and cabinets upside down,
Shredding furniture, breaking windows,
Pouring the liquid from bottles onto the floor.

It has happened –
Even the memories of happiness
Have become so distant and obscure
That it feels as if the moments happened to someone else,
Or perhaps I watched them on television.

I stuff empty plastic bags into other plastic bags;
I am unaware when I am driving or walking alone.
I notice nothing and I am no one to anyone
As I wind down the hours waiting in line at the supermarket,
Waiting for checks to clear.

It has happened –
I’ve run out of love
Before I’ve run out of breath.

Waiting out the clock,
I close my eyes tonight and it feels like all the stars in the sky have vanished.

I’m afraid to open my eyes and go look.




John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals in the last twelve years. His website contains links to his published poetry online.