September 13, 2022

Corrosion of The Soul / The Unread Poem by John Tustin

Corrosion of The Soul

I wake up when I like
On my days off,
Turning to no one and asking the wall
What time I should go to the store.
When shopping I avoid the crowded aisles,
I use the self-checkout.
When I get home I make sure the mirrors are covered
And then I put away the groceries.

All the food is mine.
All the time my own.
I sit and read.
Except for the music, nearly every sound
Comes from me.
I spend my life alone
Because evidence suggests
Corrosion of the soul
Is contagious.

I hope I’ve locked the doors and the windows
In time –
I think that to myself
As my theme song swells

Only in my own ears.

My wings quietly rustle in their disorderly folding
And my nose is beginning to forget
The smell of the sea on the wind.

The Unread Poem

This is the poem that is torn
from a looseleaf notebook,
asymmetrically folded
and left yellowing and rain-withered
on the windowsill furthest from any door.

This is the song that the shoemaker plays
in his shop that is permanently closed
because factories make the shoes now.

This is the dance that is danced
behind the barricaded bedroom door
by a lonely little girl
with one left foot and a wooden leg.

This is the speech that the stutterer practices
in his mirror of sweating palms,
never making it to the head of the classroom.

This is the poem that is written,
then tucked away,
not to be found until the death
of the poet.

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. contains links to his published poetry online.

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