Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

Four poems by Jake Morris-Campbell


    The Village that Vanished


All the bitter day waves smash into Smugglers’ Cove and Byer’s Hole.
The sky has failed to lift and a shipwright’s hoolie blows doon King Street.
Sometime soon we’ll re-pack the van, lock the door, gan from here.
Away from foghorn bass and herring-gull staccato we’ll wake
to brighter light, wind in tune. There’ll be no need to tell the bairns
about Jobling or Fairles, riots at Mill Dam, the death of Palmer’s Yard,
except to say they all kindled in a town where no town should be,
where for years the houses inched closer to the cliffs, buddleia crept
into lintels and sycophants threw gasoline onto the pyre.


    Akenside Syndrome


My voice choosing whether it knaas or knows
while lost on campus looking for the hall.
Geordie syllables caught in me throat.

Repairman with faded anchor and swallow
tattoos speaks a language my Granda bawls
while aa wonder what it is aa knaa I know.

Puzzled, I ponder which way to gan or go
while he points: forst on ya left, nee bother at aall.
Geordie syllables free in his throat.

Cleaners and canteen staff in the shadow
of the academy don’t need to call
Geordie syllables caught in their throats.

From the Robinson Library I can see Gallow-
gate: thousands of accents that are Hebburn, Walls-
end, while my tongue stumbles: knaa or know?

Considering where my voice is at home:
how a Tyneside accent can make iz galled;
torn over when it’s right to knaa or know.
Geordie syllables caught in my throat.


    The Last Home Match of the Year


After, and with apologies to, Paul Farley. R.I.P. Bradley Lowery.


The ref raises whistle to lips
as our goalie jogs to the centre-circle
hanging big palms round the shoulders
of our full-back and captain
          making a link
with the linesmen, fourth official,
visiting team and fans
whose marras once did the same
in clotted coal shafts beneath.

We’re duly asked over the Tannoy
to observe a moment’s silence
for the players, supporters and club representatives
who’ve passed this year.

As the whistle blasts,
sucking all attention to the sky
(ideal blue as the day Pangaea
first cracked or when MacGregor was pushed
to the cold ground at Ellington)
forty-thousand people cross their hands,
tune to the backing fuzz of floodlights,
that one lonely Seagull’s cry.

Electric advertising hoardings flash to no-one
in this moment which is strictly carbon and chlorophyll.
Looking from the patch of atmosphere
the stadium frames back to the touch-line
we envisage rings drawing closer:
who’ll be left next year to sing the lads in?

Part of us wants this moment
arm-to-arm with parents, grandparents, pals
to last past dusk, through next week, eclipsing
Christmas and the shambles we’ve witnessed.
But already some bloke in his lucky, striped scarf
three pints in, odds looking good
is itching in the south stand as the ref
once again raises whistle to lips
to bellow Haway! bring the life back in
and send the year on its way.


    Roker Dolomite


Nil Desperandum Auspice Deo


When I heard that the two of you
had started driving out to churches
that autumn they first flooded
your veins with chemotherapy drugs
         I wasn’t surprised
that the Roker Dolomite of St. Peter’s
Upper Permian Magnesium Limestones
were some sort of solace.

Nor       as you poured tea
from an always-leaky pot
where once Ceolfrith blessed heads
and Cuthbert         and Aidan
called to the skies        was I surprised
to think of you taking comfort
in walls that had survived many storms.

And just as the scanners at the RVI
consecrate flesh and tissue for remission

petrologists’ laser models of sacred buildings
reveal similar findings:

that half-buried          masonry
like half-burned          cells     remain
because people with cracked bodies
like churches with cracked roofs
say we will not be defeated
         we will not be defeated.