Volume 4 Issue 1, April 2020

James Croal Jackson

Teenage Afternoons

wasted time the sloppy in and out 
of direction from new strangers 

begging for moans in the silence 
of wind between the space of passing 

cars and hours spent before this shield 
from the bright yet lonely light



Soup Cup / Dead Life


This is microbiology.
What to do, what is not done

every day. Nature appears
without intervention.

Without invention, sing wings.
Flat cockatiels

flapping. Earth,
kiss your pain. Check 

the bleeding. Allow
one bite.


Rural Restlessness


Now, when I am shackled in my mother’s home 
in the middle of the woods, with nothing to do 

but write & fuck & consume, especially the day 
after Thanksgiving, when not frigid enough to stay 

inside forever but it is frigid, I want to roam 
what seems the unattainable world, missing 

the skyscrapers I hate & the open seasons over
Pittsburgh & the rows of rowdy bars I get wild in. 

I want to drive my Ford Fiesta up the hill in shadow
& never come back down, accelerate to a hundred 

and become the blur of pines, windows 
down, forest mornings so thick with unease 

I want to be shackled by trees & serve 
the unattainable world the oxygen it lacks.





Turn away from bleeding nights
of hedonism, for nothing good 

is heavenward, nothing virtuous 
earthbound in the hours when 

locals have vanished from taverns. 
Nothing fills the soul more 

than a bottomless glass of brew. 
Nothing fills the soul anymore. 

Cigarette fog creeps through
frigid city nights– how to swell 

your lungs with want. Would-
be ghosts of unborn whispers, 

these streets are teeming– how
ever empty they may seem.






you say you’ll be there
but never show

the forecast calls
for meteor showers
so I lay a blanket

in the park
clouds obscure
the view

I guess tiny streaks
across the sky
are not magnificent

I throw a penny
into a wishing 

and call a séance
for my father
in my dining room

the dead
don’t leave

on my voice





June 20, 2019 – Work


I am a clicking sound in the tongue of the restaurant– 
how would you like to be served how may I serve you 
he bones are getting cold in this chicken breast this cutlet 
of space I said I’d do anything for cash and it’s true there is 
no limit to greed that’s the whole idea space expands 
and my atoms stay quantum and still, considering.


College Freshman


partying was the new 
beginning growing up how birdlike
I rose from the ash of a suburb
to learn a new suburb how limiting
to be alive in a time of bubbles
floating in a happy blur
chemically unwell
days to pop

You Leave to Make Art in the South

    a riverflow 
  of talent
      the sediment
         of the world 
             gone well 
                 my flaws
                   I wish 
                 still for contact
             this accident of 
          longing a lesson  
       in how not to be alone
                    through the lens 
                              of canvas

About the Poet

James Croal Jackson (he/him) has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and poems in Pacifica, Reservoir, and Rattle. He edits The Mantle Poetry (themantlepoetry.com). Currently, he works in the film industry in Pittsburgh, PA. (jimjakk.com).

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Published by The Alternative.