Poetry Drawer: Improvisations: Unbearable Lightness: Somerset: False Advertising by Jenny Middleton


We have taken to living life
as if it were jazz
rouging wan days
with bright notes
born from barren weeks

hollow as the tin-can lanterns
recycled and strung up
in the spindly birch trees
by kids, next door.
Each cylinder’s dark interior
is pierced with geometric patterns
so they gleam with empty space
marking out the night
with absence, as death is cut
into our lives.

We philander from the garden
and let it straggle, feeding
on its own leaves, drunk
with fermenting sugars
set to sweeten autumn
without us.

Grief’s time-signature surges
days in eight bar riffs
dubbing evenings
to waves of past voices –
ghosts we drink to extinction –
and stand at last
in the darkness of a new street
awake and broken with dawn.

Unbearable Lightness

I lent Kundera’s novel,
and then separately,
a pair of daisy spotted culottes
(smart enough for an interview)
to friends
light enough not to return,
their words, ceiling trodden
and walked to air.

I find I still wonder where
the pages spore their print
in absence
from my shelf
as if they were
chilli pepper seeds –
papery and disk like
skimming ideas to flame
even after they are eaten
and gone.

And whether clothes
absorb memories
with their wear
to larger shapes,
stained and stretched
to age.

The rails of thrift shops
hung, heavy and spooling
sky, touched, scraped
with the beyond
of these days.


The plough’s metal ribs are turned to the sky. Rust flakes in fingernails from the iron core of abandoned machinery amongst the unmown grass sprung with daisies and summery warmth. Flattened clouds rule the sky, pulled taut as clavichord strings that hum with a storm’s jigger at the afternoon and its wobble of espaliered peaches.
We run barefoot with the children, laughing, circuiting the field, drunk with exertion, feeling the rub of damp roots fleck with the music of first rain.

weather charts
blue sky to numbers
rain blurs us

False Advertising

Billboards feather boa the street
taxiing minds and high balling eyes
to palm tree spas kissed
with sangria and sunshine’s
strut in snakeskin thigh highs.

The adverts promise
the everything of lies
to anoraked pavements
apace with slow stepped lives
loitered with the fur
of Friday night zooms
and the lurch between
stops to and from home in buses
pelted in more soft sell.

the earth a dream mumbled in pentameter
curved, foetal and asleep
beneath a tarred city’s rumble

Jenny Middleton is a working mum and writes whenever she can  amid the fun and chaos of family life. She lives in London with her husband, two children, and two very lovely, crazy cats. 

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