Stephen C. Middleton


Ambush / in (my) own territory
lambast & map the territor’
& remember
at base camp

Waiting for the axe to fall
New angles of attack
Trickster licks
Flickering light to an epileptic

Refined (a luxury), rebuilding
Remind me – what is it that I do?
Uncertain remit

Waiting for the axe to fall
Legitimacy or aegis
Of the artist.

Resourceful (Recording)

Talk of shellac / acetate
“Need no help…
Get there if I have to walk
Make St Louis by myself
(Tomorrow may be too late)”

Rattle & slide
Elide & jump

Rediscoveries & damaged originals

Where distress refers to
The condition of people / of 78s

Rejected takes
Or; rejection takes so many forms
The standard slip
The kick, the flippant…

But; resourceful
Hucksters & masters
Maverick tricks & tracks
Shape shift & contortionist
The assault course
Blind, rod, & running board
Bars & hoops to squeeze through
Recording the blues.

Glancing Blow / Close Shaves / Ad Hoc / Momentary Union

Ornette’s birthday celebrated (Katie) – his ‘Old Eyes’ – look at Ornette’s eyes / he says / what Ornette (has) made possible. Overtones & groan, theme sketched in around breath sounds. They have played together. Here with Chris Corsano at Café Oto. Paul Dunmall & John Edwards on Day 1. Evan Parker & Lol Coxhill on Day 2. Extraordinary buzz saw deployment… gentling it. Strikes up / ad hoc / partnerships. Performers need / repair kits (&, sometimes, you have to trick them into listening) as travel gets more difficult. Lotte turned back at the border, “but it’s got to be live, you have to be there”. Ululations from east of Tarifa, the essential sadness of flamenco, the sporadic sense of entitlement (salient now) of Kafka’s heroes. Of the Bahamas – the day is so long / & the wages so small. Polyphonic magic – rhymers, singers, & poets – hand claps replaced the terrifying drum. Cousin Grachan’s potent Evolution and Some Other Stuff…on the cusp. Junkanoo rhythms & floats, all night long, the children struggling to stay awake. Old Grandad & catching up with old acquaintances on the Wulf Road. A lone wolf himself but strikes up / ad hoc / partnerships. The / Across distance they come to hear him. Flights cancelled / delayed. Candles blur my sight / she is my eyes / reads the T shirts / identifies paraphernalia. One of Kafka’s ‘suicide headaches’ coming on. Crazy paving. One of the triggers (is) shaving. Don’t laugh. They did. But it is there on the website. Some neurologist knows. Glancing blows illuminate. Be wary & sparing, except when playing. Lost reeds, collapsing saxes, repair kits, mournful trumpet. Momentary unison. Categories & labelling redundant, subverted. Joe McPhee passing through. Young audience. Converts / infected.

Stephen C. Middleton is a writer working in London, England. He has had five books published, including A Brave Light (Stride) and Worlds of Pain / Shades of Grace (Poetry Salzburg). He has been in a number of anthologies, among them Paging Doctor Jazz (Shoestring), Troubles Swapped For Something Fresh (Salt, 2009) & From Hepworth’s Garden Out (Shearsman, 2010). For several years he was editor of Ostinato, a magazine of jazz and jazz related poetry, and The Tenormen Press, producing limited edition art books of illustrated poetry about music. He has been in many magazines, mostly in the U.K, but also in the U.S.A, Canada, Australia, and Europe. His live work includes poetry readings, performance pieces with musicians, stand up comedy, and storytelling. Currently projects (prose, poetry, and performance) relate to jazz, blues, politics, outsider (folk) art, mountain environments, and long-term illness.
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