Issue 17: Adam Burbage

North Devon Journal

Saturday 10th September, 2011 - Saturday 17th September, 2011

i) M4 (Bristol and the South West)           under an x-ray sky, scarecrow miles erase themselves, finding

our vanishing point encrypted in the pale noon                 a skeleton of

                 a rib ,         a femur, the body, blond in the silence, hewn      of hope, chance, and dust

ii) Northam                    in the sea             i see scripts, high behind the    end of land    the tight, white crests

of waves    gentle thunder, the ocean found in her unerring patience


iii) North Devon Television Aerial          bleary sentinel, heavy with a day’s weather      likewise our

comfort is rescinded    i must think my way into my rapture


iv) Instow              think blue, in all its constellations    from the thick, hewn granite of the estuarine

tide, to the close, blue light in the air, which is like radiation, emitted in the relation of the sun and air,

leaving everything infused.

                  we walk against the grain of the sand     tired and complacent in low tide    happy to inhabit its

corkscrew memories, turning ever outwards        when the wind begins turning up sheets of sand and

dust we retreat the 800yds or so to the safety of the car.


v) The Cedars Inn                      a hint of glass in the air (a function of the conservatory maybe?)  suggested

in the sharp rises of sunlight, rendered catatonic by the close glass, that climb over our table, and

languish in the spent heat of the morning.       you break cover by its being sidelined, alert to its spoiled

bounty,   thorough and dishevelled     winter shower comes crowing under the wrinkle of noon   dreamy,

high music     at table.


vi) Fever                                        hot blood      skin like lizard wings /  angel hair                                      even the

darkness tires, the bounds are high tonight       dawn falls over the room like cherry blossom


vii) Sam                      is always  ,   not never  ,       not instead, but because   ,     always is

viii) Home                   we clear the swollen grammar of our crisis in time to find the day loosen, and why it

isn’t later no longer concerns us            Tiverton is forsaken, and in its way, Taunton after it. We find the

landscape is cancelled like a chain of crying candles.                         Long is the way back, shorter is the way

out, and don’t we know it,                        She sd.


less a pause than a breath, or at least

the time it takes

to hold your breath as

long as it takes, to decide

which of your certainties

to discard, and how to encrypt

their absences

so that

when you say anything

– walking now, in blanket copper sun, hair

snagged like crooked

dollars against

your collar –

it is the loneliness of a

certain composure you see

not its opposite, that, no one has


in this movement

the sun gathers like high tide

and you’re getting your feet wet

pacing the loosening frost

miles disappear

and you have to move

adjust your shadow

still sitting with the car door open

what could be less easy than imagining this

any other way

this then is love,

this is freedom

on what has been a tall morning.

The sun on your face

the sun on your face sparks a thousand

chemical reactions, heat’s even pressure

deserted by your body’s mistrust of

harmony. I reach, and find myself

curtailed in the stark hurt of the day’s

white spaces, the eye’s find, and

what about you, you say, and I don’t

respond immediately, but only keep

walking long enough that we are far

enough apart to warrant stopping.

loose, drawling smog are pinpricks

against the line of our incursion. there

are dreams start like this that narrate

lifetimes, if I’d let them. I was born

unprepared, and so it has remained.

a colourless breeze tracks against

the mean terrain, & how I know all this,

the product of what, I couldn’t say

except words drive like thundered atoms

anticipating storms, and I have never

felt more understood than  I do now

or less in need of it, standing with you

without words, minds shaped by a

memory of theft as rain lightly falls.

we are looted, but splendid in the smooth

cancelled music of omission, of our busy love,

of 5pm, & a charming stalemate, reassured

that in the end, the only difference between

going on and turning back is which you decide to do.

Adam Burbage has published poems in Stride Magazine, Great Works, Like Starlings, Nth Position, and Shadowtrain, most of which can still be found online. He previously edited the now defunct online magazine Geometer, which can’t. He lives and works in Oxfordshire, where writing has to fit around other stuff.

Copyright © 2016 by Adam Burbage, 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.