Stephen C. Middleton

Panic in the Desert, 2013
(for Albert)

Peptic ulcer – consumption
Albert cannot breathe
Panic attacks in peacetime
It is always the year before the war

For your centenary, blood stains the desert
Algeria’s plague

The cynosure – some distant purity
(Work awkward forms into song,
Career trajectory – from notes)
Cedilla, diphthong, & breathe

Format / weave
Dormant these years
But we were not watching
Colonies we divide & rule
Can use this closer / nearer to home - & we do

Albert foregoes his train ticket
& goes by car, forever

Settler & settled, too simple for Albert
This is their game & they are winning
Spin & stale rhetoric - & desert dead
Some God’s edict
Some mud that sticks
Another process that has failed
Another taunted zephyr
Ancient scapegoats
The twisted walk to war
“Neither victim nor executioner”, he said

Catching breath, struggle in the throat
Panic – pressure, gorge rising
& there, outside in the snow – a dead rat
& that’s how it begins.

© 2013 Stephen C. Middleton