SPOTLIGHT: ‘The Whiskey Stings Good Tonight and Suddenly the Page is Ablaze’ by Bradford Middleton


My life goes by in black and white,
The black words I type onto white paper
And the sepia tinted black and white
Of the old movie days. The films come
And go, a new one every few days whilst
The words, right now, continue to flow
And it all makes me happy.

The old movies take me back to the
Films I used to watch with Nana, where
The bad guy is always sure to get it
And the good guy will always be
Handsome leaving the women of her
Generation swooning and dreaming
And they always made us happy.

The words have been coming for over
A decade now and the idea I’ve been
Lucky enough to devote myself to it
Fills this beating heart with a simple joy,
Hopeful as to how it’ll continue to play
Out over the years I cling on before
Succumbing to death.


The daze at work come and go with an infrequent regularity
Sometimes three,
Sometimes four,
Sometimes five times a week
But recently I’ve had to get used to a new phenomenon
People coming in, people I don’t generally recognise
Asking me about this, my poetry
When am I reading again some ask
I wanted to see a poet at work some say
But the thing I often think is who was that
And have they bought my goddamn book
I know it’ll never save me from this exhausted routine
Of working, drinking, writing, smoking and sleeping
But if they’ve ever read my words they should
Know that I hate that work, that detestable shop and
Most of the people I work with and serve so
Why come and see me down there?
I can only conclude that they want to see me at my lowest
Possible moment and are afraid of stepping into the ring
Of the bar to see me drinking when, no doubt, I would
Try to sell them a book in exchange for a beer doing
Both of us a favour but no they come here instead
To a place where nothing ever changes. The
Homeless masses occasionally return to the icy
Streets from their hostel begging change to support
Their habits and I still get ridiculed about my name;
Today it was our new security guard, Steve, who turned to me
And called me ‘City’, as in the football team from the town
With which I share a name, but at least this time
It made me laugh as I remembered times at school
When fellow kids would taunt me, calling me ‘Bingley’
After a well-known old-fashioned building society
Until that was I contemplated battering them.
Right now though I just want to escape all this
Nonsense of poetry fans and random taunts
Escaping to somewhere no one knows me where I
Can drink, smoke, work, write and sleep at last in peace.


I’m going to come clean now, it’s true
I am a dirty old man, it’s one of the reasons
I dig my job for the 16 hour minimum wage
Weeks I tend to do but this morning a new
Revelation appeared. The prospect of a 7am
Start left me feeling nothing but cold and
Tired before I’d even begun but then she
Breezed in and I couldn’t believe my eyes
A stunning beauty wearing a revealing
Dazzling nightie with slippers under a coat
Leaving little to the imagination as I stood
Taking in that miraculous face but then my
Eyes turned to her shopping and couldn’t
Resist, the pertest most beautiful pair I’ve
Seen in a very long time and as she left
With me, for the first time ever meaning it,
Saying ‘come again soon…’ I almost did as
My loins erupted giving me the boner from
Hell, dreaming of getting in that nightie
As the next shopper approached my
Checkout he caught my eye and recipricated
The twinkle as we’d both caught an eye.
“This job ain’t all bad” I hear myself say and
All he can say is “bleeding hell, I can’t
Believe that!”


I walk out in the streets now and see madness and death
Nearly everywhere. The madness of the streets and the
Death of hope that it brings to lives that land out there
Soon to be embroiled in their own forms of madness filling
The streets to the point where even the local paper gets
In on the story.

‘Spice! The Scourge of the Streets’ a headline bawls only
Three years since it’s illegality made it the thing to do in
Certain unhealthy circles, mainly numbing those who
Existence is out there on the streets.

‘Homeless man arrested’ another screams detailing a lost
Soul looking for somewhere warm to spend a few homely
Hours whilst another, slightly closer to home, says ‘Co-op
Food store robbed of £200 in attack by chisel-wielding maniac’
And it makes my heart sink.

With all this going on out there is it any wonder I just want
To stay home here, save some money and eventually, maybe
In a few months, get the fuck out of here as, trust me, turn
Right out my door and it’s like a war-zone out there and I don’t
Fancy becoming just another casualty.


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