Stephen C. Middleton

Rewind (Rat)

It began with a rat
An anaphylactic attack
& a phone call with news
Of an ending

After – with tricky rewinding –
We restarted the programme
That we had been watching
& viewed it from a point before
The phone call came
As if nothing had happened
&, perhaps, she hadn’t died.

Eroded / Recording

Diminished lexicon
So cathexis (inevitable)

Tunnel vision
In the slow lane

Physio / the cold shoulder
Riffing …calcified

Or just obeying orders

The mask too tight
The transfusion too slow
Diagnosis plausible (denial)

Blur of hospitals
Eroded arsenal       recording.

Damage (Limitation(s))
(From Depositions Before Surgery (the Allodynia Variations / Improvisations))

The burnt oesophagus clicks in gristle. & never really got over the anaesthetic. A thing about numbness – actually prefers pain to blur. It is all, she says, damage limitation, &, don’t succumb. Prioritise. The arms fair seems the most immediate target – but she is a pacifist – where, how, when to do some damage back.


& managed the land
Though nomadic
Thinking ‘tending’ rather than ‘ownership’
The Miwok in the Yosemite
The Aborigines we have argued about
For years

Pomegranate & persimmon
Sulphur & almond
Cannot effect a cure
Pure & bleak
Through streets the young have left

Skewed stewardship at best
Strange eviction, even desertion
At worst.

(From Fragments of Unease (Depositions – with aphasia – after surgery))

Panic attacks / frightening into silence
& the long way back

Panic’s diminished lexicon
Depression’s trickster antics
& familiar licks
Deficiencies / cathexis
The easier to gain purchase
(& to lose friends)

Panic wipes the memory banks
En route to (& from) the hospital
Blanks to shoot & sift

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, 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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