John Tustin


The old motel
With the bullet hole in the bathroom wall
Of room 209 –
She wants people.

She’s lonely
And wants her beds and showers filled again.

The sign flashes green-blue Vacancy
But nobody comes
To park in her parking lot anymore
Or to walk barefoot on her rough carpets.
All the rooms disused
And the housekeepers getting laid off
One after another,
The old motel wonders
If a new coat of paint would be enough
Or perhaps complimentary cups of coffee
Or a card that gives you the tenth day free.

A new motel
Has opened across the street
A block away
And now the burn-outs and prostitutes
Go there instead,
Mixing with the bikers blowing through
And the low-level businessmen
Who are just-in-town
But can’t wait to get out of town again.

The old motel
Looks as sad as the green sofa
Of room 103
That grins grotesquely
With its lumps and the vague smell of piss
Fifteen summers’ time could not remove.
It’s neon come-on ignored
And even the desk clerk has begun
To look out the window in longing
For the new place
Whose Vacancy sign just exploded
In a bright red NO
In the cloud-occluded night.


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