E-ISSN 2457-0265

Vol. 5 Issue 2

James Croal Jackson

Memory Outshines the Moment


Childhood’s supposed to be a little blurry,

but phones are testing the shores of Moore’s law.

Kid, you’re gonna know every gory detail growing up:


the green facepaint. The goalposts at night. The peach wall

(since painted cerulean) the pool cue leaned against. You will

still smell the fragrance of fall in retail. The beehive lights


spattered against the backdrop of capitalism. Somehow you

still found a way to toss boomerang smiles, to pose

at Macy’s amongst the mannequins, limbless and featureless.






Melted Plastic


I made a mistake– chopping

onions and mushrooms

in the house

we both live I wanted to

cook us a meal

to forgive a prior mistake

though you say that’s not

how it works. Nothing

works since the new year

when I blacked out

and fell for another

in front of you

and everyone else

so we both rode

home crying in

subzero darkness

and snow and we

haven’t stopped since.

It’s the coldest week

in Ohio in years

and today we want

to stay in. We can’t

think of anything

else. Which is why

I didn’t notice

the plastic spatula drop

into the stovetop flame

and melt into an air

of a future cancer

how I only noticed

from the toxic smell

burning my nose

and though I cleaned

up the black scraps

with Goo Gone,

heat, and spoonscrapes,

the smell lingers

in every plastic product

(the new shower liner,

the Ziploc bags to carry)

every time we step

onto the white

tiles of our kitchen





St. Patrick’s Day, 2019


Though morning hovers with gorgeous

gray clouds, it is under thirty degrees

in Pittsburgh. The neighbors are shouting,


which fills me with an insatiable need

to party– though I know I would be

miserable in afternoon haze, drunken


lumbering through the cold rest of day.

I am awaiting a visit from my friends,

Wayne and Jess– I have been drinking


less, but I know– after the parade– we will

go for green beers at a bar, people dressed

in green around us, shouting, as we down


our glasses with a little shame, as we

pour the wealthy a little more green.





Milgate Mornings


I spend these days walking

down the slope of an ice


rimmed hill. My hardcover

library books are overdue.


I want to mingle in a throb

of strangers again. No, I


recede, always, into self

importance, in static butter


flies, that near silent energy

buzzing from TV. Whatever


enters a room must be

semantics, a language for


longing I pry with my fingers.

Winter’s the season. Remnants


of lovers. Ice in morning light

refracting through isolated


windows. Even my street

does not know my name.







Saying Hello at Kafe Kerouac


in the midst of split    


tremors & vertigo

earth   I


into sinkhole   

a heap of turtle

shell floor tiles   

you reached

for my hand  


was a walnut

butter brownie  







Broken A/C


on the highway heading home

memorial day weekend sweat


takes my shirt off lets the sun

roast me through open window


wind fanning I’m so hot I say

to each friend passing before a


calm stretch I slow down horses

merge into my lane in a white


trailer why the long faces oh

they are way hotter than me







 Stock-Tank Pool



You scared the shit out of me– I am

creeping on influencers. They buy

stock-tank pools and place it in front

of suburban blue skies of suburbs.

There, the saturated grass. Watch

the rubber ducky floating in the face-

book blue water, preternaturally still.












How long

to tolerate pain?


Many weeks

this cavity, severe,


this hole

turned wolf on me–


no more arguing

when they say go!


Problem is,

my philosophy’s


the way

the flag blows–


west to California,

no, east, no, Midwest


now. Transplant

for a transplant,


my flag flies stink

-bug, flatland,



About the Poet

James Croal Jackson 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. (

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