ARMS OUTSTRETCHED
by John Tustin

ARMS OUTSTRETCHED

Me with
Arms outstretched
As if on the cross
But really waiting
For you to come
And be enveloped
And protected and
Encumbered by me.

I have been waiting for you.

I have been waiting for you
For so very long!

Stepping
Out of shadows
It was you, love,
You who came to
My arms and you
Who kissed me
And you who it
Was to accept
My embrace and
You who is now
Gone, so gone.

But I had waited for you,

I had waited for you for
So very long!

You, who is all the forests of the world.
You, whose tears are mixed in the rain
As the rain falls upon my sullen windows.
You, whose heart is broken upon this
Death strewn copper-colored landscape.
You, for whom I waited below the clouds
With my arms outstretched as if I was
Hanging from a rugged cross on Golgotha.

You, for whom I had waited so long.
You, for whom I had waited so long!
So long
For you.

O Father!
Why has she forsaken me?

FROM FRIDAY NIGHT INTO SATURDAY MORNING

Late Friday evening and the air is thick
As smoke.
Valerie sitting across from me
In the kitchen.
Valerie putting the beer bottle
To her lips.
Valerie’s voice fluttering
Around my ears.
I reach out for her
And she holds me
And we stand like that.

Valerie’s mouth on mine.
Valerie’s hands
And Valerie’s sighs.
Valerie on my bed.
Valerie removing my shirt.
Valerie beneath me, the heat of her,
The warmth of her body,
My fingers along the tabernacle entrance
Of her exposed thighs.
Valerie’s moan,
Valerie’s tremble.

Valerie’s hand
And Valerie’s mouth
Between me,
Down the center of me.
Valerie’s spit
And Valerie’s tears.
In her mouth, in her hands,
Her subtle magic.

“Valerie, Valerie,”
I whisper it. I kiss her ear.
My teeth love the flesh of her neck.
“I love you, I love you,
All you, only you.”
I move slowly inside her,
My weight forcing her to me.
“I love you, too, kid,” says she,
Her voice soft, unsteady, resigned
But certain.
The words breathing on me,
Lofting over me in purple arcs,
My hands on her hands,
I try to go deeper.

We move faster,
We go harder,
There is a determination to it.
Valerie on top,
I’m all the way in,
It’s just enough.
There lies a comingled pool on me,
Beneath me.

It’s Saturday morning
And we breathe together,
The room in sticky haze.
Attached at the waist and the thigh,
Attached at the mouth,
No colors, no voices, just small movement,
Our hands exploring the other
As the light of the morning
Tries to battle its way into
This wet and supple space
But cannot
Penetrate
Just yet.

SORROW

i put my sorrow
underneath your pillow
and it poisoned you
as you slept.

chilled little dagger
burrowing like an earwig
into every orifice
of the head

except the mouth.
your tongue
was already paralyzed
by my silence.

i put my sorrow
in a box
like buried treasure
for you to find.

you found it.
it killed us
with its incapacitating
numbness.

i found you
gasping for breath
in the snow and debris
of our dim twilight.

i stepped over you
with a hackneyed
glance
backward.

i put my sorrow
in my own skull
when you were gone.
and it is there

that it festers,
that it rots,
with the sadism,
with the poetry,

with the madness,
the waves
of the ocean
and the weakness

of the will.
The soupcon
of tenderness.
and

the touch of
regret,
for faithlessness,
for transgressions

real or fantastic.
i could’ve been better
and i should’ve
been better

but the sorrow
was like the roots
of an omnipresent weed.
choking.

self-aggrandizing.
self-flagellating.
self-important.
selfish.

the night is halfway
over and
the porch light
is flickering down,

but if you knock
anyway, despite all,
i will
answer.

yes,
of course.
of course
i will.

i put the sorrow
in a place
so deep,
so far

that
maybe
it won’t
this time.

SWARM

Here come the Mullahs
Here come the Mystics
Here come the Pundits
Here come the Priests
With their papers
With their potions
With the words crooked
In the corners of their mouths
 
Here comes the Armada
To bottleneck the harbor
Here comes the Panzer division
To bury you in the sand
Here come the soldiers
To swarm over you
Like ants on a dead locust
 
Here come the vultures
Here come the carrion-crawlers
Here come the beetles
To bury their eggs
In your desiccating flesh
Here come the earwigs
To bury their pincers
In your desiccating brain
 
Here come the Commanders
Here come the Colonels
Here come the Premiers
To bury their bullets
 
Here come the Purveyors
Here come the Provisioners
Here come the parasites
To inhabit you
To exude from you
To buy you
To sell you
To rent you
 
Here come the mothers
The fathers, the husbands
The wives
To tell you how you are wrong
To break you
As they fix you
 
Here come the poets
Here come the artists
Here come the playwrights
With their papers
With their potions
With the words flailing falling helplessly
From their fingers and tongues
 
 

THANKS?

I’m reading the book of Pablo Neruda poetry
She sent me a few years ago
And I’m listening to music.
The book sits open like the Bible used to
Sit beside me
And I read it with the same slow and deliberate reverence.

I read a few lines like taking hits from a hookah.
I write a poem.
I read more lines,
I write more poems.
The book is a well where I am replenished.
The music plays and I write, oblivious to time
Or the position of the sun.

I write my Psalms, my Sutras,
My paeans, my odes
As the music goes on and on.

She gave me this book
And she helped to give me my worldview
Concerning the demeaning and degrading
Reality of looking for love,
Believing I have found it.
She had a little help there
But she did it best.

Still, I wrote three poems tonight
And more than thirty last month
Reading this one book
And thinking about her,
More often than not.
Here’s another poem on the ledger,
So…

Thanks?

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