Jack Campbell – Two Poems


The Wall

Who put this here?
I don’t remember;
I don’t remember
stone and brick and ice.

Who put this here
this distance between us?
I don’t remember
laying in the mortar or
piling in the rock.

Nor do I remember
the stones nor the kiln
where these bricks were fired.
Their glow dimming twilight.

Who put this here;
this wall of ice
where no feeling lives;
just the creeping cold
of death.

Perhaps it built itself
while we slept.
Perhaps it rose
because it had to.

Escape; there is none.
Race to find the corner
only to find a left-handed
right turn spiraling inward.

No room left.
Just a space
where darkness falls
and the sun cannot shine.

I wonder who put this here;
this wall that has grown large
without me knowing?


A Rusted Nail

Wind flowing in from the West.
Elms bowing to the Sun.
A day turning ill favored;
can smell the winter
creeping down from the Guadalupes.

Junk pile of timbers
cast off two by fours
and rotten decking
laying in a mound of spikes
and cacti.

The piercing pain not
exactly a surprise;
halfway expected given
the propensities of rusted nails
and carelessness.

The soul pierced not only
of flesh but, pinioning the spirit
transfixing it as surely as Christ
nailed to the cross.

Oxidized steel reflecting a hue
that should not exist outside
the body of a living being.
But then blood is cheap like life.

A small taste; that’s what it is.
That feeling of muscle trying
to move; contract, flex,
but can’t. Either rip the flesh
or remain immobile waiting
for the flow to ebb to nothing.

Just a moment of seeing the self
as a butterfly in a collection
or maybe feeling a little
like Jesus
on his worst day.


Jack Campbell lives in Southeast New Mexico surrounded by the oil fields of the Permian Basin.  His work includes themes based upon the oil economy, homelessness, small town urbanization, rednecks, cowboys and the desolate beauty of the Llano Estacado.  His writing seeks to uncover the hidden personal truth of humanity.  Mr. Campbell has worked in a number of fields from which he draws inspiration.  From Wal-Mart retail clerk to pizza delivery boy he has seen common folk trying to make the best of their version of the American Dream.