John Tustin


Pity the young man who,
As he grows older,
Loses his arrogance.
Confidence? He never 
Owned any.
His insolence,
Once interesting,
Is now merely crankiness:
His resolve stubbornness.
His desires fantasies.
All he owned,
Once so indelibly carved
Into his heart and his words
Was shown to be illusion.
He considered the palpable
He knows better now.

Pity the man whose words were once braver,
His eyes alive with the clarity
Of the zealot.
He rarely saw choices –
He just acted.
He doubted himself
But not his beliefs that were
Imbued by the books he read
And the feelings he felt
When he would lie in bed at night,
Alone but
Just knowing things should be a certain way
And that if he were true to himself,
They would be.

Pity the young man who,
As the skin of his trust and belief
Was peeled away,
Left him just tendons and bones,
Dressed in a costume
As to appear like the rest of them
Who never believed but still cried
During the romantic movies
When the movie heroine
(her hair done, her makeup in place)
Nobly died of cancer
Holding the hand of a man
(Who appeared to spend five hours a day in the gym
And the balance of his waking hours
Staring in the mirror practicing looking handsome
Yet also caring, empathetic and concerned.)

Pity the young man, who,
As he grows older
Loses his arrogance,
Displaying, his anger in helpless rants
Read by no one
Accomplishing nothing.
He is stabbed over and over
And bleeds and bleeds
But never seems to die.
Why won’t he die?
He is jealous of the convivially vapid
And the blissfully unaware.
He hopes to join them in their blank dull reveries
In the dark he closes his eyes
To make it darker.

Pity the young man now older,
His arrogance replaced by acceptance.
He is in agony.
It takes him longer to finish pissing
And his body aches all the time.
He sees a tired old man looking back at him
In the mirror
And he never believes a thing anyone says.
He has never owned anything
But the difference between yesterday
And today is that
Now he knows it.

It is the only thing
Which he is certain.

One thought on “John Tustin

  1. Reblogged this on Writing in Blood and commented:
    This piece taps into some pretty heavy themes on manhood, male-ness, and the human condition. Yes, I know, how *dare* I–but I highly doubt I’m gonna get “canceled” by a bunch of cis-white men. Ahem & *wink*
    This poem is spectacular, really. The nuances are stunning.
    “…Loses his arrogance.
    Confidence? He never
    Owned any.”
    What a fantastic use of language and what an engaging character he is. I found myself aching a little inside for him while “recalling” the glory days of his youth, his arrogance and bluster serving as a mask for his lack of confidence, but surely he got there at some point in his life. Don’t we all fake it ’til we make it a little when we’re young, consuming life rather than recycling it, careening instead of pacing?

    It’s a compelling life-sketch of one man, every man. Looking forward to more from this poet.


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