Issue 16: James Midgley


there they were moving without aim unlikely

coalescing of muscles beneath a tarp pulled taut

bringing down relentlessly the quiet rhythms

of hooves as they stepped to stoop to eat

the grass received each density of hoof possessed

something meteoric in the small impact

of the scene I stopped and watched the outliers

wearing their green overcoats looking up now

and then to let gaze go to the end of the field

the fence threw it back to the eye like a ball

their lips like the slender blue lip of a bowl

pouring out a dark liquid of flank and pupil

pouring out the centrifugal swirl of tea leaves

pouring out the vision of horses that could be

of moderate wildness pouring round the field

and out of the frost-bit gate the immense fear

of their fearfulness that their bodies are funny

sacks of boulders with a mind to avalanche or

without mind but whose mind goes out nuzzlingly

among the coral-quivering of their nostrils

the bitterweeds of tails unfurling at flies

who pays mind in the sunlight currency of look

here at the glints in their eyes watching you

that is the music it is of interruption

it is the forceful rhythm of pause and void

the void of oppressive body of the stampede fear

the void of the fear of the circling

and once the gate closes once the gate opens

there is no difference it’s the maelstrom hiatus

that opens out and closes out to the field

of not-horse the unending coalescing of likely


it is prisoner to its prisoner, the one

with the constellated antlers, the one

with the Aztec head-dress, the one

with the gauntlets of familiar gods

or the moccasins or even the schoolgirl

socks that fall down repeatedly,

its walls at mercy of picking fingernails

or osmotic colour of dank stems in a vase,

and the days and nights as they are

observed from what windows it allows

and what sight allows it cannot control,

though the eye ball is much like one

of those cages a showman motorcyclist

throws his centripetal force against,

but all this is speculation, the foreign

prying apart, the speculum mirror,

and there are no things but in ideas,

and if the vase were totally invisible

would it be water, and if the walls

let in a little time to lend experience

and a weathered facade, would air

erect its force-field, and what I mean

is the idea, what I mean, would it go

out amid the pocketless spaces

of thrashed autumnal releases

and the unsandwiched afternoons

and would the prisoner bring his

witnesses and which prisoner is that

James Midgley has published poems in various journals, including Cordite, The Kenyon Review, Poetry Review, The Rialto, Shearsman, Stride, Tears in the Fence and The Warwick Review. His poems have also appeared in the following anthologies: Salt Book of Younger British Poets, Dear World and Everyone in it, and Lung Jazz. He used to edit the little magazine Mimesis. In 2008 he received an Eric Gregory award.

Copyright © 2016 by James Midgley, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.