By James Croal Jackson


The guitar hides from the sun– a shadow

of someone familiar singing. To bare my snake

skin wrapped around this temporary home.

Green of smile. Holes of jeans. Sweat

of beetles. Let me keep a tambourine

nearby. I want to make sound in the spotlight.

Self-Confidence (2/26/2019)

I want to be respected be a poetic academic 

I am not smart enough not disciplined enough

energy communicable though like disease

eating away my own flesh a gallon of maggots

pouring out of my brain and back into my wet

mouth I buy milk that will spoil beside the next

molding jug islands of growths outside me how

can I control the way my mind dives off its board

so insular I keep knocking from inside the hollow

edges of my skull come out come out wherever

you are

Cheap Cider

An apple a day keeps the doctor at bay–

OK. OK. This is becoming a problem.

I consume my only fruits on

an ABV chart and my whole life

is a waiting room, waiting waiting

waiting for the bad to come of this but

no DUI for me, I drink cheap ciders

and call for Ubers. Recently

a roommate said a keg he bought

was in his budget. I got a ledger

myself, lists of places my friends

go when they want to get wasted

so I budget my time for that despite

the knowing knowing knowing

to keep this up means I’ll

need to budget the liver.


Whatever myth you have of pyramids,

I want to hear. I can barely untie

apron strings behind my back

let alone move slabs of stone in

desert sand. I want to wake

early and run inside the bursting

triangles of sunlight but when

I start to tell you, I catch myself

already in a lie.


Doesn’t matter how much dark red

wine you drink, the clock always

ticks westward to the setting sun,

the city lights flickering on when

lips are dry and winter recesses

so blackbirds can meander across

the morning’s bluegray sky then

perch along powerlines to watch

as you walk to your car this warm

January morning, beads for eyes


James Croal Jackson (he/him/his) is a Filipino-American poet. He has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and recent poems in DASH, Sampsonia Way, and Pacifica. He edits The Mantle Poetry ( and works in film production in Pittsburgh, PA. (

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