“Flies” by John Tustin

I was lucky enough to get this
basement apartment
For $900 when I was on my ass,
Paying $110 a day in that hotel
And the landlord even said I could
move in early.
When I moved in there were dozens of
dead flies
On one of the windowsills – the windowsills
Eye level – and they were there a
week before when
I first looked at the apartment.
Maybe they were different flies – the window
Does overlook the trash cans in the alleyway.

I haven’t spent a night with my kids
since I moved out
Over a month ago. I would go over to
the house
And see them almost every day until
the ex-wife
Told me not to go there anymore.
So I only go when she’s at work, and
Hard, because I work too, but I do
And she knows I’m doing it, and she
Doesn’t say anything because she’s
Not to talk to me.
So there is something good in all

Yesterday I went to see the kids
When I knew she was at work
And they’ve been begging to stay
At my new apartment, my shitty little
Basement apartment.
They have beds there, and sheets and
And even pajamas. Sometimes I stare
Into the bedroom they haven’t slept
in yet
And hold the pajamas to me
And tears fall from my eyes,
streaming down
In a matter of moments.
I told my son, who is almost eight,
I told him that I would write a note
to mommy
Requesting that they spend some time
with me
On the weekend.
And I did.

I just got home to my cave
After a ten hour workday,
Just getting dinner ready and
listening to
The crickets attempting love outside
Beyond the wall and I call my kids
Because the ex-wife shouldn’t be home

And my son answers and we talk
And then I talk to my daughter
And then my son gets on the phone
And says that mommy won’t let them
Stay with me this weekend.
He is very embarrassed. He says
To me and then hangs up
Because his heart is broken just like

I hang up the phone and I’m swearing,
Calling her all the names I know
And I go to their bedroom, the
They have yet to sleep in,
I stare at the sheets and the quilts
Have yet to feel on their bodies,
their pajamas
Folded on my daughter’s bed,
And I hear a buzzing sound.
A dozen goddamn flies on the
Again, alive this time.
And I see these flies are my
Ex-wife, they buzz incessantly,
They circle me in my sleep, when
They show up there is always trouble.

I grab a folder, a folder thick with
And I begin to murder these flies,
A direct hit every time.
My eyes red with fire
I’m yelling Cunt and Bitch with
Every thud, I hit them so hard I don’t
Even crush some of them,
They lie there like fallen airplanes
From the sky.

Now I go from room to room,
Finding the strays and
Annihilating them,
Calling them Fucking Bitches
As I do it, telling them
“Don’t you understand? They’re
My kids, too!
Just one night,
Just one night.”


John Tustin is currently suffering in exile on Elba. is a link to his poetry online.



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