Life of Murder Ballads and Other Poems

by John Tustin


Eyes shut tight and tongue let loose –
Slack the chain and set the noose.



At some point
The sun breaks through
And the noises all coagulate
But for right now
The night is here
And I hear them outside –
I can’t tell if they’re fighting
Or that’s just how they talk.

I look outside
And I can’t see her or him but
They sound like they’re right outside the window. She sounds attractive
And I want to get a good look –
It’s fairly warm for this time of year
And she might be wearing shorts
Or flip flops.
I’ll take a look.
Why not?
I may not use it anymore
But it would still work if I did.
I think.

I can’t see them.
Where the hell are they?
I still can’t tell if they’re arguing
Or that’s just how they talk.
She swears a lot.
I wonder if sweet little gutter-mouth
Is wearing shorts
Or what she even looks like.
Their voices disappear inside somewhere.
What a waste of time.

I step away from the window
And do what I was doing
Before I heard them talking outside:

Nothing of consequence.



Living my night of murder ballads, Frankenstein’s Monster
And the poetry of Poe
While you imagine your heart rests in black lipstick and torn fishnet hose.
Morbid turgid us.
Silly girl, broken but not like me
Because you pretend to be dead but live
And I pretend to be alive
But I am dead.

Sadness is quiet. Darkness is silent. Anger is loud.

All the best writers are dead or dying
But maybe I think that because I myself am getting old.
Am old.
Take off your long black dress and wash your face.
Come here and kiss me:
Tomorrow I will give you to some young man
Who better deserves you and
Who will wake up 50,000 more times, at least.
My sunrises are half that.

Wake up to life.
Wake up to life!
Wake up and live!

People by and large are not very good
But maybe I think that way because I’ve heard so many murder ballads.
I don’t know why they comfort me but they do.
I’ve come to a point where the enamor of breaking someone
Holds little sway
But bending them the right way?

Well well well.


John Tustin‘s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals in the last dozen years. contains links to his published poems online.

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