Poetry from John Middlebrook



What has passed shapes the part that remains:           

The sweep hand holds its breath, then clicks,

and the clock breathes again.


At day’s end, the sun swells, then drops from its ledge               

waking fields of gems in the darkness overhead.

And dreams return to bed to reprise

the searching voices inside us—        

that elusive yet intimate presence

which prickles our skin or sates it.              


Then morning comes—light ascends and floods,

breaking the edges of windows and doors.

There is rust in our tracks from the day before.                                     


Each second holds the nub of the next:       

From spirit-sparked dust and cellular mix

life pulses through time, just to lose

its grip on the moment—

before starting anew.





Inspired by Richard


What’s imagined is true—

for as long as it lasts;

it confers with facts

as needed.


Even when crayons            

master trees,                                      

clouds can still be green.

And the sun can be blue—

seas empty, or full—

or the sky still blank

or the beach

too red for feet.


Facts serve to settle  

uncertain beliefs,

but the mind’s eye

knows what it sees.                                                 





In the mind, the frames of time are inversely sized:


Years are captured in snapshots and windows.

Entire summers hang on nimbus clouds

and clothesline rows.

Days and weeks are fields of clover,

countless needles in a forest of pine.


While the present is a blur

of collapsing moments,

the endless shaft of a shrinking mine.

My home on the web is www.johnmiddlebrookpoet.com, and here, you can find the details of my publication history. I live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where I manage a consulting firm focused on non-profit organizationsI have been writing poetry since I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, where I also served on the poetry staff of Chicago Review.

Poetry from John Middlebrook

Struggling with Words

Struggling with words—

like learning to dance, or memorizing jazz,

or courtship, one’s last—

is worth it. Though with all these,

I stammer as I reach my void of vision—

the blindness behind my eyes,
my fence of expression.

The slipperiest words show best

how context gives them taste—

tart and sweet— and lodges them,

mossy and furrowed

like the pit of a peach.

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