January – Jake Campbell

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Photographs by Jane Burn


On Not Finding Bede

At the throat of the Don
………….where twin Tyne tunnels
undercut Crackwillow
………….we searched for you.

We searched for you
………….in the Go-To-Bed-At-Noons,
by Pellitory-Of-The-Wall,
………….through Lady’s Bedstraw.

At Station Burn, Field Scabious
………….could have been your glow
Black Medic your remedy.
………….We searched for you

the way Small Tortoiseshells
…………and Meadow Browns
search Timothy and Tansy,
…………how miners’ caged Linnets

trace Bernician sky.
…………We thought we traced
your coracle over Whitburn Steel,
…………clouds scattering

for your arrival, but as we looked
…………beyond Souter Point
we could only see the waves—
………….like praying hands of saints.

Slack Tide: William Wouldhave at Formby Lifeboat Station

Look what you gave them, Woody:
a vessel, yes; keel and beams, a cross-cut
dream of how to survive at sea;
but to all the others, so much more—
hope. That men would be gunning down
ramparts, lifejackets fastened to chins,
eyes logged to the Sefton surf
as down went the Chrysopolis,
down went the Ionic Star.
And what does hope look like?
Like the bright beacons of the volunteer
life brigade’s eyes in this photo, Woody—
burning as lighthouses in storms,
as their first footprints back on the beach.

At Land’s End

we take turns at squeezing
our heads and the milepost
into the viewfinder.
After the shutter’s chink

we follow that tiny, white rectangle
as it blinks off
on, somewhere behind the lens
where England is loaded

like the Google Earth globe
ready, whenever we want
for us to zoom
set down our placemarks.

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‘Welcome Back to PlayStation’

Day 882. My Dual Shock 4 runs out of battery.
Mere peace is loose’d upon the streets of Los Santos!

I emerge from my apartment to air claggy with the weight of June.
The sky is kerosene. The clouds are touch paper.

On a BT Fibre box, a tatty poster LOLs in the wind:
‘In May 2015, vote OUT the Tories. Stephen Mosley supports fox hunting.’

I Whatsapp my way to Waitrose, catching up
on the weekend’s news: baby, engagement, baby.
Guardian, bacon, wholemeal. Cheers, love.

Second page news is the South African corpse found on the roof
beneath Heathrow’s flight path. He fell from the wheel arch to the towers
below like shares in Greek banks. Like Varoufakis’s name.

It takes the liver approximately one hour to break down one unit
of alcohol. By that logic, I was still drunk on payroll until Tuesday this week.

(All of my other Sweet Carolines are still in Norwich.
Don’t say anything
close your eyes
think of nothing
believe me –
alles ist gut, alles ist gut).

I read up on the ancient Greeks and half believe myself
when I say that one day I’ll look up
from my Twitter feed long enough to learn the Classics.

p.8: EARTH ENTERS SIXTH EXTINCTION.

Taphonomy, noun, palaeontology, anthropology:
‘The circumstances and processes of fossilisation.’

If I read anymore I swear I’ll never re-start playing Destiny;
rescue another world that couldn’t cope.
‘Welcome back to PlayStation’.

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The Season of Important Men

“So this is what British politics on TV in the twenty-first century is supposed to look like? Four middle-aged white men arguing over whose turn it is to rearrange the deckchairs as the Titanic sinks?”
……….– Natalie Bennett

The Somerset levels flooded again
last Christmas, and we’ve a new disease,
but this is the season of Important Men,
so please bear with us if we have to squeeze
those fringe topics to the end of the show;
after all these Important Men need room
for their economic policies to grow
and we’re sure you’re fed up with all that gloom.
So sit back, relax, make a cup of tea;
they’re up here next ready to argue
for the issues closest to you and me,
speaking passionately and always true.
Silence on set, please! We go live in ten.
This is the season of Important Men.

‘Slack Tide…’ and ‘At Land’s End’, come from Jake’s pamphlets, The Coast Will Wait Behind You and Definitions of Distance