John Tustin


To be among
the most privileged people
in all of human history
but still complain,
still hanker,
still hunger 
for all I want
but do not possess
even though I waste more 
than my grandparents ever used. 
I am a 21st century American.

To be poor but not in poverty
is unique to our space in time.

I want Indian food right now –
a most specific want 
that grows into a need
precisely because I know
it makes more sense for me not to have it.
The closest restaurant is fifteen miles away
and I can’t afford it –
not only that but my car needs an oil change
and gas is $3 a gallon.
If it was really that important to me
I’d be in my car right now,
on my way to chicken tikka and samosa
but I’m being an adult about it –
my bank account dwindling
and worried about the next utility bill.

I plop the contents of a can of condensed soup
into a small pot,
fill the emptied can with water
and then dump that in.

I’ve been hungry
but I’ve never felt that true hunger
that grumbles as it’s layered over
the unavailability or question of
whether the next meal exists
and I’m complaining anyway
which, as an American,
is not only my right but my duty.

Lazy. Unappreciative. Weak.
Softer than a kitten’s furry little belly.
I am all of those things
as, instead of turning on the burner,
I find the menu for Bombay at the Beach,
then my car key, my pants
and my very very comfortable shoes.

John Tustin's poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.
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