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