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


For M.P.N.

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
 sweater avoiding
 rains of
 circular movement,
 a steel
 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 ( and works in film production in Pittsburgh, PA. (

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