Trajectory

A poem by James Croal Jackson


I equate falsities with wheat; groves as tea-
leaves in lands of blue sun. I confuse distance
with fair weather– idols in my mind: the beach

or Joshua trees. Golden fields have I never tilled.
Toiled, yes, in my lugubrious way, driving through
vast swaths of America, pasteurized pastures often

teeming with cows. Thinking of scale, it is
impossible to be upset at mathematics. But
I do aim anger at trajectory. For years I had

my eyes closed, pointed at a spinning globe.
When I opened them, in Mom’s basement,
my feet were planted where I remembered.


James Croal Jackson (he/him) is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. He has two chapbooks, Our Past Leaves (Kelsay Books, 2021) and The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Check out his website.

Same as It Ever Was

A poem by James Croal Jackson


I am reliving and reliving the remote
control buttons then buttons
in your bed, golden room of silk
and how many times did we drink
like that? Dropping beer after beer
at Zeno’s then groaning summer sleep
right after. What were we dreaming
about? The cat was snoring and
what an endless loop! Blinking
awake and wanting to crush
night back with aluminum eyelids


James Croal Jackson (he/him) is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. He has two chapbooks, Our Past Leaves (Kelsay Books, 2021) and The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Check out his website.

Diffusion / NBA Finals, 2016

A poem by James Croal Jackson


Pacing around the bar crowd, watching
the Cavaliers transfer heat to one another through
bullet passes around invisible perimeters, Kurt

and I keep drinking the strangers toward us.
“Gaseous diffusion,” he offers. “Alcohol
is only molecules bumping into each other.”

Our bodies generate more heat with every swig,
the atmosphere tense but warm through
our gullets. We chug chaos in the blur,

invite a thousand basketballs to bounce up
and down halfcourt. The players don’t notice
our dribbled words in soundwaves processed

a million different ways in the space between
earlobe and brain. Endlessly the spectators
chant go to sleep because no one we want

to talk to wants to talk to us, our zigzagged steps
combining with the sound of a team on the verge
of climbing a challenging mountain though

the peak is steep so we try nothing more
but the drinks that keep us moving. To stop
would be to hear the room’s haunting cheer.


James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory. (Writing Knights Press, 2017.) His poetry has appeared in Hobart, FLAPPERHOUSE, Yes Poetry, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle, a poetry journal. Find him in Columbus, Ohio, or contact him via his website.

The Christmases That Were Forever

A poem by James Jackson


my own advice: treat every gift
like you’re nine in ninety-seven.
rip the heart out of your parents’
wrapping jobs. don’t notice
the hanging phone calls,
the coils of collection,
the foggy snarls at the door,
the stay-in-bed allure radiating
from big, red boxes hidden
behind the couch for after
we opened all the other presents,
for after we grew up,
got jobs.


James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory. (Writing Knights Press, 2017.) His poetry has appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Rust + Moth, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle and is a former winner of the William Redding Memorial Poetry Contest. Find him in Columbus, Ohio or at his website.