top of page

A Case Study – If Sleeping with Your Ex Isn’t a Good Idea, Why Do People Do It?

All love, all life is a reconfiguring of all that’s already been reconfigured. Watch old trees scattering leaves on a forest floor like older trees, before being sawn to a fresh existence as paper or logs, that you will use to rebuild a place you think you’ve felt before.

And rubbing up beneath each sketch you create of you, walking, shoulders slumped into the days that are to come, is the advice that doctors once scribbled in italicised, copper-plate handwriting, advising in a drooling baritone -that you can hear can even through the ink of words – to seek sea or mountain air – to get back to when

he loved you as if days were numberless—
melding together— drawing your mouth down
to his skin, the walls around you dreamless
holding pale snowflake after snowflake from
the drift and splay of limbs, the bare forest
becoming a story wending your sighs
shielding then exposing you to the rest
of the rushing world’s sickening delight
in naming you survivor or victim
interchanging blame with masked forgiveness
divorcing love from warm lips still swollen
with kisses, tarring you in rumour’s mesh
confusion pulsing beneath all you said
as you fall hard— smitten again —to bed —

all of this muttering over and over— flicking like the steely blades of scissors in a lethal cabaret snipping part of your brain away to indulge in the confetti of remembering winter branches, impossibly jewelled in emerald leaves— suspending all calendar tallies of lived and lost days—
quieting the world and shutting the door of a small cabin against the snow.


Open Water Swim

(published in the 2022 Anthology 'Seasons') 


In January July seemed Roman - a far-off, gaudy simmer of heat and light – inaccessible as the buff pip of an avocado buried in green flesh.


It arrives bald – searing its heat - razoring lawns to their baked clay beginnings. Snipping the cold mouths of lakes open, ready for the bodies of swimmers to pass through eddying tentacles. 
Bathers are numbered and must wear silicone hats – it’s too hot for the neoprene wetsuit that strolled, posing through winter plans and no changing spaces or lockers either - people are nice here - the lifeguard says - rippling.
I strip in the car-park beneath a T-shirt dress to a swimsuit – and wade in through spongy, weedy mud and too blue water nagged by fluttering mayflies – hooked with questions- which chemicals have been used to kill, which to perfect - what I will I be when I swim so far there will be no going back?

full of July
the lake shimmies 

Boxed In

(published in the 2022 Anthology 'Seasons') 

January is boxy – all blank calendar squares
mapping out months of unlived days
each a gaping mouth waiting to be satiated
with the embryonic hatch of plans
and it's back to routine’s cardboard cubes too -

which is how on New Year's Day
I find myself agreeing to go open water swimming
in a freezing English lake – but in July – when it
will still be freezing-
so now instead of worrying
about the empty reel of blank eyed day-less days
strung to form January I can think about dying
by contracting legionnaires' or Weil’s disease –
rather than Covid –
yes - this must that cheery, silver flip of the coin
spun in aerial loops till it
winks with more than the weight of its worth
that I’ve so often been told about
I tell myself

thinking how Byron was more proud of his swimming
than his poetry
and he never had the chance to buy a neoprene
wet suit in a sale
or watch how these sleek, shapely skins
hang like body boxes
smoothly stitched with back, chest or zip free
fastenings. My future will be tight sealed and inescapable.

Winter’s Score


It’s easy to admire
the skater’s bladed boot resting on her partner’s thigh
his hands firm on her waist hoisting
her above the rink into glitzy, gaping lights
carving the ice together with the arced geometry of dance

few think of
scientists, at the poles, drilling metal cylinders
in to glaciers collecting the traces fallen things -
pollen’s sweat, snow compressed by mammoths
a deluge of poisoned rain – racked with signs

of change and how this shifts particles
flaying memories like the swan – trapped that winter
in ice and fishing nets
its feathers beating sound from still air
in flightless desperation

or how a body aches long after
the surgeon’s slice through skin
blurring its dead, rutted scar
amongst live veins

no – it is easier to love what doesn’t scream - 
a world that winks sequins and whispers
soft, snowy songs to a tired audience
sitting in the arena’s dark. 



Published at Ink Pantry


we row, hearing only our oars

 pluck the sigh of ripples free

from the lake’s swish of midnight


and silence, lifting water to sudden

 cold light, cutting and breaking at the damp

float of moss that clings to the cold 


wooden skin of our craft

the stir of sand and silt scurries

 beneath us as we pull on,


heavy with grief, our backs turned

from the shore and its familiar

round, worn stones, moving


onwards and away, towards

the tangle of the tree strutted

embankment, its branches open


and different with day.


Sleep- Some Scenarios 

(published at Ink Pantry and at Spillwords)

  1. Absence.
    From the beginning you wept, tossing
    and un-soothed, suckling milk
    to an exhaustion that gaped
    from a hungry, red mouth.

    We paced and sang rhyming reels,
    running and running their rhythms
    amongst the thinning air,
    heated by your wails.

    Then wings, gentle and absolute
    with downy sleep
    would brush us and rock us
    from such barrenness.

    2. Accidental.
    Sofas sag with TV induced stupor
    and beer bottles brag of an evening lounge,
    gathering in glazed emptiness
    on the coffee tables while you sleep,
    fully clothed, as the drone of day
    spirals fitfully to insubstantial rest.

    Later you will jolt awake,
    bleary, shirt astray and stumble
    against the furniture of the world
    stripped to 2AM; stark
    with the inconsequence of failure.

    3. Induced.
    Sleep arrives in the form of opaline tablets
    marooned on a sanitised, metal tray,
    each pill an island thudding with escape.

    They slip between your waxy lips
    and soon breath is a stringy rattle
    clambering to the air, while dreams lurch
    un-fettered beneath your eye-lids,

    unwrapping the last of the world
    amongst the dim lights of a hospice ward.


On Worthing Beach

Also published in 'The Red Hibiscus Anthology, volume 2'


Smooth shingle, rounded by sea,
slides and sinks as we walk,
unevenly as the tide
does in its blinking and glistening
suck at the shore, lapping
us in our race to print the sands.
Its salty rush at us, cool even
in summertime.

The wind full of bluster
and smudges of faraway
fairground jangles
haunts our walk,
intercepting our words
with its stolen sounds.

So even as you push your fingers
against the crevices of my palm
and pull me to you,
we feel the persistence of centuries
echo within the town, the tide
and the gulls’ clasp of the paling sky
ring at us.
Our footsteps vanishing already
to the hold of the land.



Saturday Evening – Suburbia


The trees here are suburban stooges,
the stand-ins for a woodland,
growing in the dim expanse
of a backyard,
their shared vision grown to leaves
and translated, in mob, to the breeze,
their whispered drool in stereo
with the screech
of hand break spins
that greet this neighbourhood
from the supermarket car-park,
where, on evenings like these
its empty space is loot - for some-
to race with; to fill the trivia
of time with
and escapist fumes elude
the labour of trees.
Oxygen and air a cloak
as scarce as day.



I Realised When I Heard Him Play


that instead of talking he was glossing
life to a pop song's day,
fizzy with vacancy.

While his violin sung of a river;
long notes following long notes
in ripples pushed to air
from the eddy and flurry of water
circling in the dank murk of the weir.

His bow’s strong strokes
alive with sorrow swung
from beneath the current’s keening push
of minnows swum to minim beats
then to semibreves

while his fingers leapt between
fine, taut strings coaxing
music from hollow mahogany
to sing the sadness
of the sentences unsaid.



Published online by Spillwords 

History, poetry written by Jenny Middleton at


How illness’ bald precision
Leans its shadowy gnomon
At damp mouths, at a past

Too tight to speak
The starless, darkness of its own cavities
Unless it is to the soil’s prostrate

Buzz of the unfurling dead.
Their powdery silt laid down
Amongst lost paramours clambering in

Abandoned seas’ fossilised dissatisfactions.
No moment is sacred. No paper writ
Without the scrape


Of cells unveiled.
A steely cap of boots
Shrives bone to a skin drum’s slack

Pain, beating voices clear of velvet mufflers –
Of scrolled, marbled tongues
Swung from history’s lidded crypt.


(Published in the 2022 Anthology 'Seasons') 

on spring bright mornings
you - a child -and me
find tragedy
squashed and spelt in the bones of
dead hedgehogs run down by traffic.

Their overnight
endings already congealing
and attracting flies to granite kerbsides
where we’d crowd with the others
lamenting – chattering – learning
about the loss of something realer
than Julie’s diamante hairband slipped
to sparkle in an unknown firmament
of long eared starry grass
beyond the wilderness of
the school playground -

today, neither of my children have seen
a hedgehog either dead or alive
or heard its snuffle bumble
burgling the twilight of its quietness

and suddenly I know something
of love’s unseen push
through uncertain nights
that fills a mind with seeds
pricking through their husks. 


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,

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.  

bottom of page