Stephen C. Middleton

Initial Nightmare
(From ‘Depositions Before Surgery (the Allodynia Variations / Improvisations)’)

MRI / CAT scan
Man (very much) down

Electric eel of nausea
Shudder – mockery of orgasm

Crash cart
The trolley

Plausible denial
& press on, until

Endoscopy / colonoscopy
Which orifice?
Which leaflet not sent?
Form unfilled?

Starting &
Migrained crazy paving
Bedpan nightmare

Spare me this
I signed the waiver

Flashbacks / Imprints

The bathing scrupulous
But fruitless
A staple has been left in the wound
(From the drain, not the main scar)

Staples & clamps
The bullet in his leg
Damp the (new) enemy
(No longer the politicians)
Festerings / leavings

The pictures are from which war?
The island ever riven
(Both causes have some justice, he concedes)

Flashbacks (a word he latched on to)
Flashbacks to panic attacks
Is this how it starts again?

With damp wounds, deep fears
& imprints telling me things I don’t want to know
Or, knowing, don’t want to hear.

Prescription: Justify
(From ‘Fragments of Unease (Depositions – with aphasia – after surgery)’)

Licks out of sickness’s rut
Of parapet / masking
Tasked          with
Not forgetting
Images out of illness
Broken column, Frida
& spinal design
Definition skewiff
A listing history        (not A-listing history!)

The Gaps #1; Measurements

…a distinction that is not there     the gaps are filled with poison    the sedatives no longer work – unless the Doctor just wants to chat during the procedures / Bleeding off.    & watch the probe in action. Elsewhere neither altimeter nor pedometer are functioning properly. (Despite rarified air) we are stationary / at sea level, with everything cramping.


Is it stuck?
A child?
Arrested development
Dodging darts
Clown art / in the playhouse

Henry Darger’s threatened girls
Begging so many questions

Oppressive the paintings
In a small room
Thickly daubed

Bauhaus / Fluxus / Oulipo
Imagist / Activist / Guerrilla
Cedilla, but not the word
And why then, in all of this,
Should you be heard?

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, including Paging Doctor Jazz (Shoestring), From Hepworth’s Garden Out (Shearsman, 2010), & Yesterday's Music Today (Knives Forks And Spoons, 2015). For several years he was editor of Ostinato, a magazine of jazz and jazz related poetry, and The Tenormen Press. He has been in many magazines worldwide. He is currently working on projects (prose and poetry) relating to jazz, blues, politics, outsider (folk) art, mountain environments,and long-term illness.
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