Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Ghosts Keep Piling Up

—Poetry by John Tustin, Myrtle Beach, SC
—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain

We kissed goodbye
I loved you
but you got on that train
that train took you away
and you never came back
you’re gone

I loved you
and you got on that train
and I still love you
even though the train
never brought you back

the sun is paper-thin
just a slip of a thing up there
hanging by threads
like leftovers from a school play
now that the rain is gone
it doesn’t give up much light

that train took you away
I still love you
I hate trains
I love you still but
I hate trains now

maybe not all trains
just that train
the one with the 474 painted
on the side of it
that closed its doors
after you got on it

it was like you
it hardly made a sound
when it left. 


That’s how you came here—as a star
without a name.              —Rumi 

That’s how you came here—
As a star without a name.
Yet you are contented to die
In your distant galaxy
Without ever touching life,
Just allowing frozen planets
To revolve you.

God has made us
If he indeed exists
And he wants us to come together—
Just us—

Even if the universe
Collapses in upon itself

If not in this life
Then the next.

I wait for you
And I will wait in the next life
For the star that decides
To destroy a universe
For such love

That makes me laugh so well
And cry so hard

That planets die. 


Sometimes things get so bad—
The pain unbearable,
The debit column overtaking the ledger.
The soup and the crackers lie in your stomach,
Burning it as if you swallowed a lit match.

The only comfort is that eventually you’ll sleep
and then the comfort of that sleep.
It might only be a few hours
But in those few hours the pain is gone,
The bad dreams may come but they aren’t vivid
Or, better yet, completely unremembered.

You may wake up and see the clock and it will all
return to you—
The unbearable pain, the ledger column all debits.
But you had those sweet hours where nothing
could touch you.
There’s always sleep to end your pain
Or else the other less fortunate final thing that
removes it forever. 


There was that night in Manhattan
where we kissed at the top of the stairs
that led down to Penn Station,
oblivious to the people pouring
up and down
all around us.

I used to be able
since that night
to conjure the moment
and remember it
and remember the rest of it,
not parsing each second
but experiencing again
the at-once topsy-turvy
and safe feeling of it.

It was a feeling it gave me
that I was able to recall
for a long time after
but not now.

I don’t miss you
or miss reliving that night.
I just miss the simultaneously
topsy-turvy and safe feeling
of the pretense
of true love
with you. 


You knew all along, didn’t you?
You knew all along
That the pale rider on his pale horse
Would never come galloping out of the shadows
And over the hills
To cross the painted desert
And rescue us
As we waited hand-in-hand.

You knew all along
But you didn’t tell me
So I waited in the doorway
For the pale rider,
For the pale horse;
The string of ponies trailing behind
To take us, together, across the flat iron sky.

And then I waited
For you, my dusky Mestizo beauty,
To return to me
Like you said you would
When the second-hand hit the twelve like a gong
And the moon finally overtook the sun.
I waited in the doorway after all that
Until the moon just didn’t come out anymore.

The pale rider is on his pale horse,
Crossing another desert somewhere far off
With the string of ponies once meant for us.
You knew all along
And maybe you didn’t lie to me
But you certainly didn’t tell the truth.
The sun beats down like a vulture’s last glide
Upon my doorway
As I turn my back, finally,
On all of it—
Go inside
And gently close the door behind me.


Today’s LittleNip:

Now I know what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that's what.

―Salman Rushdie,
The Satanic Verses


Welcome back to the Kitchen to John Tustin today! John’s poetry is forthcoming in
Sleet, Eunoia Review, SOFTBLOW and others; his first poetry collection is forthcoming from Cajun Mutt Press, and contains links to his published poetry online. Good work, John, all the way from Myrtle Beach!


 John Tustin

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