The Kill

Johnny droops on the sofa,
fighting sleep, losing,
watching a Spider-man cartoon
and explaining it to me,
jabbering in a sleepiness
of little boys.

Sara adjusts her bangles on my bed,
eyes transfixed
on her jangling wrists
in her little-girl world
I could never penetrate
or pretend to comprehend.

I pull another bottle from the fridge
(Samuel Adams: Brewer. Patriot.)
and eyeball the food you buy
and have no intention of cooking
or eating.

How can I possibly extricate myself
from you
and still maintain my lifeline,
my sanity?

I carry Johnny to bed
After I take him to the bathroom.
Turn on the air-conditioner.
Sara awaits Daddy’s arms,
sleeping rear-side up in my bed.

And I know you wait for me,
like a vulture for a dying herbivore,
like a shark for a wounded fish.
I’m weak.
The kill is easy.
You will sink in your fangs.
And every day
the light ebbs.
Every day
the life ebbs.
A stuttering eddy of brackish water
descends on my eyes,
driving them dark.
Driving them
to my ending.
An ending of powder,
of silence,
of alone.

Like An Insect In Amber

my bladder is full

my left ear is pounding
     like a drum

it hurts to swallow

i put the covers over
     my head
     as my kidney nearly explodes

so i climb over the bodies
     to the bathroom
     to let it out

i stand sagging
     like a wraith
     before the mirror

is this
     what i am?

is this
     all there is?

     where are you?

i look in on the kids

faces of bliss

bodies twisted
     into comfortable shapes

i cover them tightly

kiss their foreheads

whisper individual
     “i love yous”

march my failing instrument
     back to bed

     but still alive

like an insect in amber
     motionless forever
     in the moment


wanting it to be over
     needing it to go on

slouching broken
     and burning
     to the finish line

Sick Like A Dog

I started puking for the second time
that night.
I was sitting on the toilet,
diarrhea having just tumbled down
moments before.
I flushed, turned,
let it out.
Made an ungodly noise,
water still rushing,
filthy stinking sickening
I vomited in the bowl,
on the seat, the floor,
my pants, my shirt.
It was everywhere.
My legs were buckled.
I was dizzy.
She was in the shower.
I cleaned up using tissues
and toilet paper.
I stood up to get paper towels and cleaner
when she screeched,
“You better get Clorox wipes
and clean it properly!”
Gut-sick, fevered,
“Fuck off.”

“What’s the matter with you now?”
“I’m sick.”
“What else is new?
You’re always sick,
sick like a dawg!”
Lying in my son’s bed,
shaking and moaning,
sobbing gently,
praying for an end
to the unholy pain.
Time stood still,
the clock hands hammered into stillness,
eyes burning like twin cigarettes
in the ambivalent darkness.
More diarrhea.
I crawled to the bathroom
time and again.
Dizzy and broken.
I couldn’t lie still,
couldn’t breathe.
The morning came
and I was still there.
And I still hurt.
Starving, thirsting,
legs throbbing.
Ready to face the workday.

And I never did use those
Clorox wipes.

John Tustin's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Medulla Review, Gloom Cupboard, Carcinogenic Poetry, Sex and Murder, and others. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry is the link to his poetry online.

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