Three Poems by James Croal Jackson

Writing a Break-Up Album in the Underworld of Los Angeles

parking garage stone and yellow emergency
the microphone’s metal web against my lips

to vomit last year in haphazard dollops
of song, wolf, and waterfall dry music

career in loneliness this lifetime achievement
many-tailed and thick porous semiconscious

rambling strummed brown fingernails clacking
away at my hard reverbertion of longing the car

window closed to keep the sound in

Passing Claudia

in this city is a familiar intersection /
brick / unlike the old: stone / spotted
your doppelganger waiting the stoplight
/ stalled behind a truck and called your
name / as I drew closer / turned green
you waved back / could not halt my car’s
slope southbound after hello / goodbye
all acquaintances become ruins / friends
who shift faces / places to call home first /
my mother’s / my skeletal wandering to
belong / shell possessing consciousness
beneath acacias / humid summer of moss
between the cracks of historic buildings

in this city my heart is polluted

driving in circles everyone talks
about the same thing love weather
politics rain this summer gone
in a flood another day awash
in the lust pitter-pattering
off the black hot concrete
incalescent the days we
drive in circles around
each other, lip symbols
tiny trinkets the tiny purple
piggy bank I bought for you
from a quarter-slot machine
in a mall outside Youngstown


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 ( Currently, he works in the film industry in Pittsburgh, PA. (

Please note: Poetry is compressed to fit smart phone screens. If you are reading this poem on a phone screen, please turn your screen sideways to make sure that you are seeing correct line breaks for this poem.

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