Poetry Drawer: Conflict: Endless Twine, so to Speak: Hard to Think Around the Thing: Dental Care: Cover by James Croal Jackson


I don’t want you
here. The void is a void.
Sun a bright November forty
seven ride. When I was last
depressed I drowned myself
in Tito’s. This was a gift
from you. You won’t
be there, but I want you

Endless Twine, so to Speak

every sentence can rebirth
a hundred times correction
fluid applied to my tongue
I gag paint thinner thinker
emotions, I’d say what
a wondrous gift, a paperclip
glinting in fluorescent sun,
how endless sky turns fake
the longer I stay inside

Hard to Think Around the Thing

I don’t want details.
To paint the scene is
the scene. I am trying
hard to think around
the thing. To forget the figure
and face. But it was late
October, your phone was booming
This is Halloween– and my
bed was on the floor
then. And the baby
blue walls before
the High Street crowd,
everyone in masks–
with the scissors. You cut
the hole in my pants.
Because I was in
silky green. I was
alien alive in the
wrong place,
wrong time.
There was the gold stage
behind us. By garbage
can makeouts. Groping
hands reached into
the city’s cheap costume.
And there was chill
in the wind except
when everyone
was bunched into
each other. If we
couldn’t stay warm
we’d have to go
inside. No one
wanted the street.
But we didn’t
want inside.

Dental Care

is a drill I am filling holes
in the days my worn-out jeans
piled on plaids & flannels
in a bag of old saliva

& I didn’t listen
when you asked–
no, pleaded–
take care

the whir of the
overhead light
over every scrape


Skinny Love isn’t your strongest (red
guitar grass blades, guzzles of beer)

the world doesn’t know your name
still I walk infinity eights through

your friend’s backyard evading dormant
dog droppings while the strumming lands

soft & sweet, butterflies on my cheek.
I’ll find a blanket somewhere to sit on

under the awning, a shade for when it rains

James Croal Jackson (he/him) is a Filipino-American poet working 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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