Five Poems by James Croal Jackson

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THE STRIP (VEGAS)

in no other place does the sun
swindle the breath from your skin

those who walk in the neon glow
cut the chords of their own harps.

your tired shoes crush cans
among mountain-ascending

penny-win dings &
skipped softness

of losses
listen to the suspended string

how she gently falls
to wine

ACADEMIC ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

Write what
you know,
they say.

From graduating
college, I learned
how to survive
bars

then crashed
into Mom’s
garage drunk
with the GPA of

zero-point-oh-to-
be-young-again-
oh-Lord-oh-my-
oh-fuck

BLENDOKU

We can work on puzzles all day,
watch the patterns move
from one color to the other.

Block colors twist in gradients
until blending into something else.

The sun removes itself
from the scene, shifts
behind a cloud,

creates a change in light,
a block of bricks on a building
slightly darker than the rest.

GOD POEM

I believe in you

with your hand
in my hand,

which forgives
who I am,

who I have been–
every sin absolved,

we clasp
in silent prayer

and respond,
really respond

to our prayers.

With your hand
in my hand

this land
is my land,

indivisible
under sheets

and gone
in the morning.

THE OVERLOOK AT BALDWIN HILLS

rarefied air
never spring
the way smog
sept into our lungs

on the couch hand in hand in
the same room breathing
the same air where there
are more heights to inhale

James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in Columbia Journal, Hobart, FLAPPERHOUSE, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle from Columbus, Ohio. Find more at jimjakk.com.

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