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Jenny Middleton

Jenny Middleton has written poetry throughout her life. Some of this is published in printed anthologies or on online poetry sites. Jenny is a working mum and writes whenever she can find stray minutes between the chaos of family life. She lives in London with her husband, two children and two very lovely, crazy cats. 

jennymiddleton97@gmail.com 

Unfastening 

https://blognostics.net/blognostics-an-innovative-experience-in-literature-poetry-and-art/2020/05/12/unfastening-by-jenny-middleton/

Gloves lined with silken darkness

welcome my hands to memory;

their interior rich with the smooth touch

of things held and held before.

As if we were relearning our vows 

as a language grown old sings

with words once rusted,

seized and deadened,

amongst a tangle of docks and nettles,

or choked with bind weed's grasp.

Now as clay is worked clear,

turned on its wheel to rings

and worn up to the tenderness of sculpture

these words rise from their base vowels

to sentence the sublime

unfastening us from the everyday. 

The Oranges

published at The Blue Nib https://thebluenib.com

https://thebluenib.com/4-pieces-by-emerging-poet-jenny-middleton/

We'd watch dusk creep slowly over the hot

Sicilian day. The sky skin-taut and breathing

warmth, even in darkness, as the orange

trees were watered, pools formed at their white,

painted bark and green fruits, bright within grey

shadows waited solemnly un-noticed and here.

 

And you'd talk to me of pips; the beginnings

of business and the daily manufacture 

of components to light the camera's lights

and power batteries to record and film

all of this forever, or the digital

ever, anyway, pixelating the world

 

round as those Christingle gifts I crafted

at first school from oranges to universes.

Sometimes the fruits would already be moulding

as I plunged cloves into the bright, thick flesh

to scent them further, realising as I tied

a red ribbon of blood to the equator

the web of splitting segments was ourselves

splintering as we shared evening's silences;

voices lulled and quiet as oranges ripened. 

Nan's Piano

published at The Blue Nib https://thebluenib.com

Mahogany, quieted 

and waiting.

We lifted the front panel

of Nan's piano out.

Its dust - sticky with age-

cracking against lacquered wood.

Its notes resting on felt-

runners poised on a starting block-

the vibration of sound a promise

as we heaved it free

of its stuffed elephant existence-

a carcass lifted - dripping

with the blood of a different world.

Of a war when Nan played piano in pubs

and working men's clubs, singing

in London between the sirens. 

That was before the x-ray of her lung

became vague of breath and sported

cavities; dark holes shown eating

and eating at youth's tissue.

VE day sang its victory

in the TB sanatorium

where she spent the last year

of the war breathing, recovering the dust

of herself from the dust of the blitz

where her angora jumper, brand new

and completely insignificant, blazed

on the washing line burning itself to memory.

The scar the surgeon's scalpel left on her back

was crescent shaped and puckered,

knitted together like everything from then.

Make Do and Mend as with music.

Damaged, surviving, the piano stands,

its sinews singing now as my daughter plays

and with each octave stretch to a chord

I hear the piano wonder Nan's music. 

 

Strawberry Marks

published at The Blue Nib https://thebluenib.com

 

Sticky with sun and walking

surrounded by fields

 ironed flat and gaping

beyond us to a distant

infinity of hedges

 

the strawberries glimmer

their tender swell

of scarlet from beneath their tri-fold

parasol leaves nestled around our feet.

The dry earth, their nest, strewn

 with brittle straw and filled

 with summer ripening.

 

Turning and turning the sun

blazes its axis to unwatchable 

tongues nagging the clear sky

To reckoning. To a justification

of blank heat and inescapable

shade-less questions.

 

Our fingers clutch the stalks, snap

their greenness to song

staining our fingers, indelibly

and our mouths to a blush as we eat

The swelter and sweetness

 of day to red memory.

 

The Cedar Shingle Roof

(As published in the 2019 Anthology Reach)

Rain shells the sky

and slides its drama down;

while arching over us

the cedar shingle roof

is silvered with air

and age.

The red of its youth

washed with autumn

and faded strong;

a will bent with survival.

Dad hammered the tiles 

together thirty 

or so years ago

pounding the doubled-dipped

galvanised nails home

to the bed of rafters

above.

 

Reverberating still, his hands

ridged with veins and visible

as ropes beneath canvas sails

fold around newspapers

full with giving

as the forest gave.

The turn of sky to cloud

a blink away. 

The Flat Line

Once in maths, we made moebius strips,

snaking paper from its brittle, flat plane

to the impossibility of infinity.

 

We'd cut the paper to long, thin strands,

let them slide, smooth as laces,

through our hands before

We single twisted then glued

the stubs to invisibility,

ironing their separateness from existence.

 

Then we'd watch, with unfading awe

a pen skate a line, unbreaking

and running on both sides of the paper

 

circling endings to beginnings

and thoughts to overlap with thoughts'

experiences, again and again

as you would wind my hair

around the curved warmth of your fingers

coiling its fibres through laughter's 

 

flash to helical perfection;

the coded core

of memory's reverberations. 

Obituaries 

(Gold Winning poem in Kevin Watt's Object Impermanence Competition) 

As before

I see you trek carefully, feet edging

the pitted fissures that the wilds of storms

melt to rocks cleaving their chalky damp cries

to sheer the falling heights and pull down slow

then swift to the vanishing point of shore

below the eaten crags.

Then your voice,

wavering as grass ridging the back of cliffs,

their burs and seeded ears sighing faintly

against the sweep of coast and hollow 

flattening of the breeze,

begins to call,

sharp and acrid 

through the lightning fused air.

 

And it is as it was once,

the summer a smile of sea

and sky tumbled russet bright 

with longings and plans beyond

the edge of us,

before the sirens and urgent

quiet of the ending invaded,

lancing at today, listing

it under

with the other obituaries.  

Brighton Pier

 

Over the sea and leading nowhere

the pier soars, its gapped boards

pulling us to its promenade.

Planks are parted with a promised

glimpse of the ocean tumbling

and foaming feet below -

its waves climbing around

the wrought iron red posts

supporting us all

to the end.

Here the fun fair screeches

its rollercoasters into the sky

and the helter-skelter spirals

riders down on their coir mats

through Victoriana to

the pinstriped candy-floss stalls beyond.

The yellow heat of oil

and frying food wanders the air

unhealthily wraith like,

enticing as the ghost train ride's

beckoning ghouls,

their scripted screams

staccato stabbing at the thump of rock music

all around us until we are

full again of swaying knowledge

and vertigo; pitched against 

good sense and firm land

somewhere inside forever. 

The First Flute

(As published in 2019 Reach Poetry Anthology)

Even amongst the mires and marshes

at our beginnings we envied the birds

their song grown sweet amid the tawny thorns 

of survival. Schemes were lit and fires

laid smoke to climb through the roast heat of bones

and blister of wings until the remains

displayed their hollow, fleshless tunnel caves. 

Here the first enchantments lifted from lips,

swift fingers coaxed the perforated pieces

of death to fresh flight of flurried dance

now strumming soul soft from our stereos. 

A Brighter Burn

That night the light was slow,

a faint glimmer before a brighter burn.

The singed green shade twisting

in the faint breeze mouthed 

through half open windows.

I'd got up, too hot to sleep,

too tired really for those ends

of things really that tangle

a mind's late thoughts,

when a moth traced the vaguenss 

at the corners of the room,

its confusion crashing at the walls,

the brightness its beacon,

and then its silhouette inside the stretched

satin shade seemed muffled

and drawn large as those paper puppets

in shadow theatres of old preconfiguring

its own demise and fizzed throes

of death as staged and restaged tragedies.

 

Then the stench of absence and heat

was all, a universe swallowed whole.

Shutting the lights off, I stumble to the stairs

that fall into wheeling darkness.

Pelts

Our coats straggle

on pegs,

clammy with winter,

scarves tangling

into a fog that drifts

from our limp

cast off forms.

We gather in halls

the silk of our scalped insides

murmuring and our skins

pressed into the animal darkness

of cloakrooms dripping

with the forest's damp

still. 

Room 

the room grows colder now

and greyness climbs windows

where nets sag with smoked days' deaths

your hands stare empty 

and news suffuses the void;

heavy punctuated prose passes

its statements.

 

inside the cavity opens itself

e-rayed exposure of an end

and ashen acceptance

are all the letters send

 

outside fish pool together,

gold as sun shadows,

trapped in beauty

and needing no comprehension. 

multiplying;

the hush hangs itself

between our stuttering 

closures. 

The Unsaid

It's the cool edge of words

That frees truth

To the heights of dark skies.

Cutting as the sharpest stars;

Slicing at those syllables

Uttered in hasty exchanges

And sauntering into the bleakest streets.

Here the unsaid elements exist;

Cut free and 

Fluttering.

 

photographer

As published online by spillwords https://spillwords.com/photographer/

in the infra dark of red hues

he develops photos the old way

his hands tilting dark avenues

side to side, crossing, caressing

chemicals drift to oblong lakes

rippling the grey-scale tones

of light to a glossed retina;

an imprinted code of vision, 

fished from flimsy film to frame firm

the gaze of yesterday's wild eyes - 

dripping with days done and captured

for a slow show reformation.

each is pegged to dry and retell

forever that blaze of a second's

wire crackling fresh

and kissing warmly back with life

lush with the moment.

Dance

closing, firstly hands together

then slowly pausing and parting

palms brushing warm with night softness

between strangers, greeting, passing

speechlessly to an intimacy

of evening and orange lit lights

winking at a journey now full

of pages empty as islands

drifting in a spiralled foam surge

of oceans' freshly fashioned form;

volcanic and heat swept upwards

from the very sea floored inky depths;

alluring as atlases mapping

newly a bright world unknown. 

Box Hill

A snaking spool of steep

jagged chalk; this impossible slope

cycles high to View Point

where the eyes of ancestors

looked as I look at the trees

scragging their roots between the rocks.

Here the yews and boxes vie

for dark space, waxy with years. 

Beneath, The River Mole scampers

round its stepping stones ever

too widely spaced and patterned

with small damp imprints

of many crossings.

And from the soil crawl the rooted

fingers of trees; ghostly and climbing

from the pitted chalk

that weeps its secrets thinly

with the rain

while we retrace our sloped steps

to their base. 

Match

Tight, between your thumb and index finger

You hold a match ready to strike a flame.

With rushing friction bursting from the tinder

Of glassy powdered card and your swift aim

You will change something forever.  Blame

Free and with a flick you could set the spark

Of destruction eating all of acclaim

To the hollow hunch of a charred burnt mark;

Searing all with just one match sweeping in an arc.  

Curve

The curve of you waking wise baby

Strangely natural and unknown grows unstoppably within.

You float, swim, kick, my conscious self

demanding my wearied world

awake for your own daisy-eyed looped dance.

The greying mornings dawn hunched over

since the blue dividing line proclaimed

your presence. A drawn line in my life too,

Then the metallic bleakness and longings...

Never have I felt so far from known land.

The material world other, outer and distant dim..

and two thousand Christmas cribs cry anew

and rhythmically rock with visceral reality.

A pain suffused, strange secret of continuity

shivers as I pass past to you

Universal child. Can you carry our

paling shadows to silver solutions?

Expectant.

Expectant we wait and watch your image beat

on dark screens and hear the muffle

of new life snuggle the world within.

Baby bigger than beyond;

A universe to come.

Anorexic

(this poem was first published in 1996 in the anthology 'Turning Points')

So fine

Your sugar bones

and porcelain smile.

Too expert a host

to this weak, torturous guest

That shivers inside your lacerated mind,

and through your gossamer

skin cloak.

How obstinate your eyes are,

Like two black beads

Riveted to your skull,

even chiding your persistent 

lingering flesh.

Still your organs pump,

stubbornly alive, human

and reflective only between

the panes of hated mirrors

into which you gaze with morose curiosity,

watching always its sad winter faces

and blue, insubstantial masks, shapes

filtering between the forest of tubes

that devotedly offer up their sap

to sustain this liquid existence.

Your hands lie, so passively exposed,

huddling together their fingers

like spent match stick dolls

in silent protest against us

while you dream defiantly 

of the luxury of self violation.

Yet such stamina

and so steely a will,

so determined and impassioned;

pure ambition inverted;

gobbling its own 

flower from existence. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Copyright Jenny Middleton

jennymiddleton97@gmail.com

 

 

 

Curve

The curve of you waking wisw