I’m grateful to the editors of Synchronized Chaos for publishing my poems "Nexus," "The Shore of Imagination," and "Looking Through the Big End of the Telescope" in their February, 2019 edition. They write, “John Middlebrook probes how the mind comprehends our existence with pieces on various liminal, in between spaces, including dreamtime and evening. He lends the theme to this issue with his piece about seeing the world from the ‘big end of the telescope,’ where the past becomes clear, small and far away enough to organize in one’s mind.”
You can read the poems here.
“Struggling with Words” is particularly close to my heart and I’m excited that it found a home in Synchronized Chaos, an interdisciplinary webzine for art, literary, science, cultural, and travel writing. Its editors write, “John Middlebrook looks at the experience, aural, aesthetic and visceral, of words and paintings, and then imagines a comforting, embryonic realm of silence inside a black hole.”
I’m pleased to say that the Wilderness House Literary Review included four of my poems in its January 2014 issue (volume 8, no. 4): “Terrarium,” “Splash and Shatter,” “Cascade the Generations,” and “The Settings of Stones.”
Surrounded by indigo fields,
I turn off the yard light and sit
on this summer night listening
to the sounds between the sounds
of crickets wafting their chants
on the lazy breeze, unmoved
by the discontent of hounds
in the distance baying
at the plaintive whistles of trains,
the rustle of gravel under passing cars.
The clock nods and blinks
on evenings like this, then retires.
The industry of spring has passed:
and the branches of fruit trees—
that snagged rags of clouds
and made them blossom—
now sag with orbs of quiet fire.
Meanwhile, the paint cans of autumn rest
undisturbed in storage, and the wind
that will turn—sure as a hawk,
when winter bears down—
sleeps in the forest.
I am grateful to the editors of After Hours: A Journal of Chicago Writing and Art for publishing my poem “Waking Up Together” in Issue #25. After Hours is a semi-annual literary magazine publishing poetry, fiction, art, and photography from Chicago area writers and artists. Having spent some of my most formative years in Chicago, it’s an honor to be a contributor. This journal is print-only, and you can order a copy by following the instructions under “back issues” here.
My poem “The Light Within” can be found at Front Porch Review. As their website says, “a front porch is where we, young and old, congregate; where we assemble, gather, mingle, congeal, where we get together. And once there we speculate, pontificate, prevaricate, and expostulate; occasionally we speak words of universal truth.”
Snow clouds piled again
and loomed in the sky
like silos packing
all the dark weight
of a late wet harvest.
The last planes out at sundown
were silver sleds
with chrome-dipped wings
snapping through life strings
tethered to trees–
winter’s glint-shafts of thinning heat.
Shops closed early,
and those still bent for home
scurried with narrow gaits over icy trails
like high-rise workers on lattices of steel.
Then the sky paused and took
its last shallow breath,
exhaling a prelude of aimless snow.
And we knew this was it:
the final signal to seal ourselves in
and brace for the lashings
of night’s whipping winds
sweeping beneath street lights,
in that deceiving, moth-soft glow,
relentless rough-cut shavings
tearing through every space
moaning and drifting
in gables and yards
into corners and doorways,
all the depths of night’s folds,
as the edges crept in closer
from where they were before.