Golden Bullet, John Tustin

Getting rid of it, Dave Mehler



It was only a few months
But in those few months –  

She jumped through hoops of fire;
I tamed a tent full of lions
While juggling six pins
And when she miraculously
Shot the cigarette out of my mouth
From five hundred yards
I, still blindfolded,
Outran the fleeing golden bullet
And caught it between my teeth  

Just before we dove from untold heights,
Into an eight ounce glass of tepid water.  

And if you don’t believe me
Just look at that golden bullet
Still smoking like a diesel
Between my grinning gritted teeth

Even as I speak.

John Tustin


Review by Mykyta Ryzhykh

Golden Bullet: You won’t immediately understand what it means. What do lions in a tent mean? But suddenly you catch yourself thinking that you have a real plot in front of you, a poetic thriller.

In the final, according to the classics of the genre, the golden bullet “Still smoking like a diesel”.


Review by Philip Kirsch

“How to document a brief but torrid romance in nineteen vivid lines” — this is it!  “Hoops of fire,” “untold heights,” “miraculous” feats; they are all here, and “if you don’t believe me,” look – the evidence is on my face (why “tepid” water – who cares?).


Review by Nancy Sobanik

Tustin’s humorous poem delights, spinning a tumultuous love story using a metaphorical tall tale. The circus act descriptions of feats of derring do conclude with a challenge to the reader to just try and dispute the story, while making it clear that this affair was a close call. The non-stop movement and the use of first person narrative carries the flow of the poem briskly along.


Review by Massimo Fantuzzi

O, we believe you alright, we cannot not. Love makes everything possible, every jump, every escape, a way out of the dichotomy, a third option that wins over this budding bubbling cancer that is simultaneously our life and death, the chains imposed by our x and y-coordinates; love is matter and antimatter, magic that breaks the physics and boundaries imposed onto us by the observable universe; love’s insight – but I’m not even sure that’s the word – takes us beyond the point of truth or lie, beyond reality, where even language can barely account for that spell. Love is the poet’s spell.

But love, first learnèd in a lady’s eyes,
Lives not alone immurèd in the brain,
But with the motion of all elements
Courses as swift as thought in every power,
And gives to every power a double power,
Above their functions and their offices.
It adds a precious seeing to the eye.
A lover’s eyes will gaze an eagle blind. (William Shakespeare, Love’s Labor’s Lost, Act 4, scene 3, lines 321-328)


Review by Jared Pearce

Lots of fun images for living a suddenly recklessly enamored life—lots of fun.


Review by Anastasia Vassos

This love poem’s surreal imagery takes the reader through a short relationship that holds no regrets. Catching the golden bullet between the teeth, diving into an eight-ounce glass of water—these moments resonate with the thrill of what is fleeting. I like how the first couplet orients the reader to the poem: ”here’s how it happened.” The capitalization of the first word in each line is interesting; each line holds its own as it stands alone, and these beautiful lines emphasize the extraordinary moments of the relationship. At the end there’s this moment of destabilization: how does the speaker “speak” with a smoking bullet gritted between the teeth. Do I believe the speaker? I want to, but I wonder at the reliability of this speaker. But you know what? That is part of the charm of the poem: should I believe him or not? Who cares. The poem takes us on a wonderful ride.



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