Literary Yard

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‘DARK EYES AND DIMPLED SMILE’ and other poems by John Tustin

By: John Tustin


Dark eyes and dimpled smile
In the wan twilight
Of a packed room –

I cannot paint it,
Draw it, tell it

Dark eyes and dimpled smile
In the wan twilight
Of a packed room

Is shining
And immortal:

Hammered to the wings
Affixed to a sky
Love-laden and recalcitrant,
Remaining aloft
Beneath the sun
Of my memories


Or until the sun explodes,
Turns cold
Or is finally
Too tired

To try.



I kiss you in the doorway.
You look into my eyes as we tangle in the bed.
You are my Tara for today.
Eyes emerging amber above the haze of our mouths,
Dazzled tongues.
Eyes green in the harrow of the words
That recount your innumerable wounds.

You wear your scars upon your body,
They rest wearily in your eyes,
They escape your mouth like a million imperceptible razored incisions.
I am here to help you heal.
No doctor of medicine, no mystic healer,
Just a man as close to broken
Meaning to suture you with words
And gentle excited hands.
There is an agony in every lovely crease around your eyes.

You are my Tara for today.
When you are healed I will give you back
To the world where you belong;
Not this bed
Lying with a man whose heart is malnourished
Yet attempts to nourish yours
Through your convalescence.
I gasp for air in the ocean of your thoughts
As you gasp in mine.
You swim in the dreams where I kiss you sweetly as I dream.
I swim in the imagination of you as you tend to your wounds,
Quiet in your pain.

If your father,
If your sister,
If your true lover
Inhabited this home instead
Of their ghosts
I would not be kissing your forehead
Your nose
Your ears
And telling you that you are beautiful
And your loss has been a gain to me
Because otherwise I would not be here
Feeling your thigh against mine,
My tongue and teeth on your earlobe,
Your hand running wild through my hair.

You pulled back my blackout curtains
And pushed me down upon the sand.
I will never quite be me again.
I am a little more now.
Even in my room alone
I hear the reminiscence
Of the waves breaking in the distance.
Thank you, beautiful Tara.
My beautiful Tara, lovely Tara,
Sad sweet Tara,
My Tara.
Kiss me one more time
Before I remove myself
From our afternoon
To merge my darkness
With the darkness of the night without,
Beyond the four walls
That are basked in your light.

Good night, my Tara for today.
May you grow beyond me
Before the morning light.
Be happy, for my sake be happy
Even though it will be
Without me.



Tonight I pray to the memory of Li Po
To Rumi to Bukowski to Sandburg
And the living uncaring soul of Bob Dylan

That you read this someday
(Maybe tomorrow
But more likely when I am gone)

That my missives reach you
Whether I am living or dead
And that you cry at the thought of my death

When the truth reaches you
In your place
Between my wasted life and the stars

The thought that I will know your feelings
When I am dead
Causes me to not exactly fear death

But become giddy with expectation



I began to read something you wrote
About Cromwell and his position
In the court of the English queen or king
And I was not sure initially
If it was pro-Catholic
Or anti-Catholic.
I was so drunk that I stopped reading,
Shut the book with a thud
And went to bed.
What’s more (or less) thrilling
Than a cliffhanger
When the man on the cliff
Is too drunk to remember
That just last night
He was mentally hanging by
His very
Upon an answer?



What must it be like
To be allowed to think
About nothing but the next poetic thought?

I live in a society that insists I must contribute
In a more concrete way and I get that.

Yet I am given all this free time and I say
That in your given free time

You take out a moment to wonder
What it must be like to just expound
If given that free moment

And just do it.
Why not? It’s free.

Yeah…what I figured.
Guess I should just do it twice.

What must it be like?
What must it be like?
I’ll tell you….


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