Three Poems

– Poetry by James Croal Jackson –


Weathered, We Return to Columbus

Yes, we are still ourselves– a little faded.
The year took a toll we did not realize
until we revisited Columbus, Ohio–
where we used to live. We were surprised
to see how much everyone changed–
Paige was worn, working night shifts at
the bar after leaving the office. Jeff writes
mortgages more than music. They played
breakup songs on the fourth of July before
fireworks blazed the sky aflame, everyone
content around each other, though Melissa
is engaged to a completely different person–
not in the sense of you’ve changed, though
she has, and he has– we are all trying
to circle around the year, immutable in
its ripples. Neil was in a wheelchair.
Mindi is drinking again. So what?
This life, you have to soften the
edges. We were glad to be back,
having flown in circles around
a place we called home only to
finally land on a familiar
branch, intact after the storm
we have been through.

Late for Work

I expect mountains! Unrealistically
my brain brims with possible
outcomes: you’re late for work
again in Aurora, Ohio, the passing
green whooshing around you–
all I fear is accident, the casual
mistake, the narrow passage
of time I waste still looking
in west’s general direction,
like I could cause a change
in the wind if I willed it, if
I asked God for a second
helping of mashed potatoes
at my mother’s lonely house
that sits in a dark gallery
at the edge of my– and your–
relentless American street.

Anytown, USA

this country music’s gunshots slinging through the wind wrapped around Anytown, USA
where I’ve never been anywhere outside my own mind traveled everywhere within this bag of
skin and blood bound to family I become further and further away from each day I bleed out my
own legacy owned by money by the river by the body bags I see everywhere I see a witness



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, 2017) with one forthcoming: Count Seeds With Me (Ethel, 2022). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, PA.