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.
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.