Stephen C. Middleton

That’s a Wrap

Everyday aphasia. Mimes – or: no answers but description. Vegetarian pastry or… Ailing in the café. The day grainy, blurred. Below photographs of occupied territory (black and white). Writing panicked – antennae dulled. Encryption, involuntary &… concentrate – ask the waitress about ingredients – allergy and ethics. Is it poisoned (ous)? From childhood. What is it & what has it touched? The day before, outside the airport, demolition. Like an imitation war zone. Like the exhibition Conflict Time Photography, Tate Modern, London, UK (2014-2015) – images visited whilst recovering from major (spinal) surgery - this many years after ‘bombtime’ / war – and this many more. Just as the scars mimic machete & torture. But can leave the desolation, the hospital – pained, scared but not completely trapped. How complete is the forgetting? How long elapsed? The equation. The treatment. No armies or (no) animals were harmed in the making of this, this… it’s a wrap.

Anarchy (New & Old)

Some resilience
Thrice removed
An anarchist brew

Traces & bridges forestall
Wrecking ball & pinprick
Sign the counterfoil
Or subvert / reuse
Context is all

Chequered flag or greasy pole
Forever lagging behind
Doctrinally askew

Spurn or infiltrate academies
Cleave to refuseniks,
The blues,
Old & new.

Gaps (Structure)

Flawed diagnoses
Taken on board

Part of the process, perhaps

Some recognition also
(In concord)
Are the pauses significant?
Is that structure?
The gaps, lapses, ellipsis
They trip off the tongue

Too young, surely, for the very worst diagnosis?

Synapses fail
In floating verses

Something must be implied
Speckled…I can’t find the word

Subordinate clauses only

The rest unheard.


                               1; Choice

Dystopia …no-one recognises anything. Redundant choices – path/gateways (he says) that never were. In the crunch all procedures will be observed. Prioritising – the pinch & undeserving. What do mercy mean (?) – from the blues. Or (without information, of course): you chose.

                               2; Vermin (Nye)

& exterminate the wrong vermin. Vermiculate continuation. Calculating, percolating – the only hope, gone west. The socialists, ham-fisted, or riven by schism, cowardice, make a mess of it. Sold the pass & lost. The enemy get to sell the rest…

Brought to Book

Acoustically books are dead,
A disaster, said Evan Parker,
About to play solo saxophone
In Borders, Oxford Street, London

Pen poised, awaiting the first notes,
I paused,
Guilty, caught in the act,
About to begin another.

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), From Hepworth’s Garden Out (Shearsman, 2010), and Yesterday's Music Today (Knives Forks And Spoons Press, 2015). 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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