The Paths
by John Tustin

I walk these paths each day –
Behind the houses, between rows of people,
Alone with my music and my thoughts.
Drenched in sweat but never more than fifteen minutes from home,
Each path twists into another
And all lead to the safety of my doorstep.
Behind one path are the wetlands that lead to the river.
Behind another lies endless suburban streets of tedium
With no shade from the sun.

I walk the safety of these paths each day
And waddle like a fat animal in the mud 
That cakes over the crumbling concrete.
The wetlands are too dangerous, 
The river too far.
I can’t bear the exposed sun and the people of the streets.
With bottles of water like a bandelier across my chest
I traverse the crisscross, 
Never straying more than a mile from home.
I walk for an hour or more –
Back and forth and round and round.
The vultures circle overhead, in the distance –
Probably in search of someone who decided
They just had to see that river and drowned 
Or got mowed down like an opossum in the cul-de-sac.


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