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Stephen C. Middleton

Mare Nostrum (Lost at Sea)


The Palm Riviera

Liberty Villas (in her mind she owns one)

& the sea so flat, so calm

That old ladies take slow therapy

With walking frames in the water

& horses gallop in the shallows


But toxic, freighted (with) misery

Flotsam & jetsam, we disdain

Mare Nostrum

Cross current hatreds

Potent elsewhere

Falling trajectory

The Underground Railroad

The lost secret ways                                                    

(Land & sea)

From slavery


Call off the search

We are full, choc-a-bloc,



This ticks what boxes?

Protects what nation state?

What values we celebrate

Out of Flannagan – Booker winner -

Australian ‘mateship’

Now rationed, calibrated


Continents full, choc-a-bloc,

Complet     with regrets, hypocrisy                            

Call off the search

Or worse


A sad litany

Now must validate the ticket

Lost at sea.

Stephen C. Middleton is a writer working in London. He was born in 1960 in Maidstone, Kent. 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 (The 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, including Ambit (UK), Gargoyle (US), Otoliths (Aus), Acumen (UK), Sierra Nevada Review (US). Current projects (prose and poetry) relate to jazz, blues, politics, outsider (folk) art, mountain environments, and long-term illness.

Meltdown (Questionnaire – IDS)


Pits & scars, we talk of

Gaps in bone structure

Holes – that the scan cannot show

Grey areas on the X-Ray

Triggers, man traps, shiver

Meltdown (s) on the rap sheet

Flashing lights

How many fits?

Loss of control (& how often)

The probe, endoscopy, prostate

Stress – the questionnaire is here

It identifies the props…

& it’s goodbye to wheelchair & benefits

There’s the lie, there’s IDS,

There goes compassionate conservatism

Made flesh.

The Cull; Broken / Bitter


Broken, the compact / of civilisation. ‘Got me barred again’. (Charlie - & still they spell your name wrong). Broken – impact assessments outsourced, ignored, at any rate, suppressed. Pre-emptive. To the knackers yard. What ’34 did for you. Got my cards. Over & above / this & everything persistent & shallow. Must be more than gripe & graft (it isn’t all about craft). Is about work …worth. Shafted. First we take …aim / or slingshot. What shibboleths …diary or select a memory? Or; came back to me. But is this even work? (Bitter) Informed / dormant. No-one is shirking. Bitter & impatient on all counts / all fronts. Deep freeze. Blame the patient (the runt of the litter) not the disease.

Poor Doors
Sheriff Stars
Black Triangle
bedroom tax
Disrupt and Upset
bedroom tax
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
Disrupt and Upset

Militant Thistles

prickling the politics of "permanent austerity"

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