By James Croal Jackson
After I axed past the tree-lined path, I turned the wrench that opened safes of gold with my own hand. And then I hired someone with wrists of a little more tension. I should have never slept in the bed of wealth. I should have known, in the night when every dreamer is dreaming, I would sink deeper into that endless hole of jagged desire until I was thrust like from a slingshot through my roof into a room of mirrors where I seemed to be me, but adorned in glimmering garbage.
September 22, 2020
Today I am a dangling thread in the unnecessary count of all Allegheny’s clothes. Snug fit in a snake’s mouth, today of all days I choose to live obliquely, first day of fall, et cetera. My brain’s all leaves, caves all ears, moths seeking better light I have not provided. You ask how my day is going and I get defensive. Never wielded boxing gloves. Never a ring. I am surviving, I say, the minimum. My form conjures shadows. Drop me a rope. I must climb out from this well.
For Once I’d Like to Hear You Over My Brain
The endless universe of this coffee-church I blend into the ground, ground anxiety into yours, I met you there, pit- pattering footsteps I couldn’t stop listening to. I asked myself if this was a joke the way only nervous nothing I said to you. Yah-yah-yah. I am awake, I know over this river I Jesus-walk miraculously you reach your hand to me– cold, wet illness. Neither of us are here.
I wish I still had time to write you letters but I am stuck between branches with heavy workload. I want to commit again to art, at least, to singing songs with you on the beach under natural harmonies of seagulls. The forest froze under another frigid season, so I come to shore in a long trench coat, alone, held firmly between two worlds: the one in which I don’t have time to do everything I want, and the other, in which I still don’t, but keep your words dangling close.
The Rotation of Bicycle Wheels
Flowers, gravel, spit. You leave a trail of petals on asphalt. Summer roads. Icy roads. Salt and brick. Path of stone spokes under breezy trees. See how the season adjusts for you. You keep going sleet-stained sweater avoiding rains of encouragement– circular movement, mechanized static a steel handle on the world.
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 poems published in RASPUTIN, Edison Literary Review, and perhappened, among others. He edits The Mantle Poetry (themantlepoetry.com) and works in film production in Pittsburgh, PA. (jamescroaljackson.com)
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