September 27 – October 3, 2021: Poetry by John Tustin and Sarah Sarai

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John Tustin

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

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by John Tustin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

I Listen to Deperadoes Waiting for a Train

I listen to Desperadoes Waiting for a Train
And The Last Gunfighter Ballad
And I imagine I am some grizzled gunfigher
And learned old man
Imparting the wisdom
Of his wayward youth
Upon my children
Before my expiration

When the truth is
I am just another
Who wasted his youth
In fear and cowardice

And want more for them

Even as they quietly assuage me,
Knowing my life was just
As surely cushy

As theirs.

Sarah Sarai

Sarah Sarai is an independent editor in New York. Her poems are in The Southampton Review, DMQ Review, Hobo Camp Review, Barrow Street, Zocalo Public Square, and many other journals. Her collections are That Strapless Bra in Heaven, Kelsay Books/2019; Geographies of Soul and Taffeta, Indolent Books/2016; and The Future Is Happy/2009. She grew up in L.A. and still checks stats for the Dodgers.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Sarah Sarai and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Someone Is Knocking at My Door

I spill oatmeal on my new blouse.
I dab dish soap and water over the oatmeal on my new blouse,
then shreds of paper toweling over the dish soap and
water on the oatmeal I spilled on my new blouse.
What message am I trying to send and why didn’t I send it
by email?
Someone is knocking at my door.

No one buzzed so I figure, Jehovah’s Witnesses, known to
drift past lobby keyholes in their sensible dress,
armed with pamphlets like muskets to home Sunday-school us.
Are they hoping to save me from annihilation and
can I persuade them I’m okay with annihilation?
Someone is knocking at my door.

I look to the peephole. Tolstoy Augustine Virgil Flaubert.
“Why have your affections waned? Are you a man hater?”
Hater! Hater! echoes in the hall.
Leibniz adjusts his wig.
Save the dead! Long live the dead! the petition on
their clipboards reads.
Someone is knocking at my door.

from Geographies of Soul and Taffeta


Peril #52 of a Having a Mother

Alois talked up
fastidious habits he
observed while engaged
in love’s excitations.
Bus drivers on Haight
were clued in, shop clerks,
everyone in a radius knew
his pride of ownership.

I wish Mom talked sex
as much as he did.
I know lots about travels of the spirit.
I’m sort of mental.

May I take off my clothes.
That’s a prayer.
May I take off my clothes,
roll about and know the cloud of unknowing.
Sweetie, it wants to be known, don’t you think?

thanks to ‘Stonewall Anthology’


The First Time I Had Sex

The first time I had sex
was followed by
the second time I had sex.
Not the same night,
not the same locale.
The first time I had sex
was in a dorm room
on a twin mattress with
a boy needing to believe
he was fucking for mercy
from whoever it was
in his fair youth, who
held his fair youth
in a fist and crushed.
The first time I had sex
was fine in the done
and done sense. He said
Now you’re a woman.
I thought Not your call.
The second time I had
sex I don’t remember.
Somewhere. Scattered
bedrooms, motels,
Pasadena, Silverlake Sunset.
One penis too big, another
so small I felt his terror.
I chose a piano player at a bar.
The man who gave me
the clap chose me.
I made out with a woman in
her car idling on a hill.
The emergency brake was
worrisome but her mouth was
smooth as familiar sheets
welcoming me every night.
Dang, I was afraid.
There’s a moral here and it is:
Don’t be afraid.
Sex with men wasn’t awful.
Sex with women, ah, floral
in the night and leathery.
The moral here is:
Our bodies are soft foothills
in spring. The sun sends
its warmth to grass greening
on soft foothills in spring.

thanks to ‘The Southampton Review’