Stephen C. Middleton

Linear A

Joe McPhee on soprano sax and pocket trumpet
Morse or Linear B
& me with collapsing syntax

Ciphers – Trickster & Trojan horse
‘map the territor’’
Slant or calligraphy

Building bricks
Repeat & fade
Aphasia – she and I both suffer
(‘Does my brother understand?’ - Universal)
Morning re-learning mangled meaning

Trickle from notes (not down)
This distinctive syntax
Or; subvert others

What comes naturally
At angles, say,
Or accidentally re-create Linear A.

Closely Observed Rains

…journey was fraught but beautiful, and extremely hot. The final legs (Lyons to Gervaise-Les-Bains / Gervaise-Les-Bains to Chamonix) were particularly spectacular. Rural hill country, wildflowers, chasms, & Alpine kitsch, and in the early dusk, at a tiny railway station, out of which the train backed, a scene straight out of one of my favourite films, Closely Observed Trains. Beside the track there was a long mountain of white material (the Alps in miniature). It could have been ice, but for the season. A long delay there – and glimpsed our guard grabbing, flirtatious, at a country girl in grey uniform – both snatching a cigarette. …a coquettish twist / at twilight / against the rigours of totalitarianism / other contours best express… As we got nearer to the (proper) mountains it got hotter & more oppressive, and I (albeit exhausted from my workhorse hours, hauling luggage) began to feel very strange. The usual symptoms / much magnified. Prickly heat, tingling palms, & a huge sense of foreboding. Eventually I managed to catch a glimpse, in the half light, of the real mountains, and they were shrouded in the most impenetrable darkness I’ve ever seen, lit by flashes of lightning, & swirls and curlicues of livid grey / white cloud. The drought was breaking over the High Alps.
Closely Observed Rains.

Mississippi Angel

Mississippi John Hurt
Thought the plane
He saw in the sky
An angel

Later, one himself,
Played to calm nerves
In mid air turbulence
Through danger
His gentle voice
A balm

Gave of his talent while
Scared inside, it is reported
But flying high
And brave
With style.

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 several anthologies, among them Paging Doctor Jazz (Shoestring), and From Hepworth’s Garden Out (Shearsman, 2010). For many years he was editor of Ostinato, a magazine of jazz and jazz inspired poetry, and The Tenormen Press. He has been in many magazines worldwide. Current projects (prose and poetry) relate to jazz, blues, politics, outsider (folk) art, mountain environments, and long-term illness.
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