Three poems by James Croal Jackson


A suitcase is just a suitcase,
a metaphor professor preached 
in college. Though, as a poet,
I make my life more difficult, 
trying to weave what meaning 
tatters fabric, seeing in it a cat
we met one night. We rubbed
his soft body before finding
blood beneath the mewling, 
and having just adopted,
we chose to lift our hands
and continue walking, vicious 
in our trust that we discarded
the proper mercy.

Two Weeks

Like yesterday, I say
I won’t leave the house for 
spinach seeds. We have to

make with what we have.
I’m listening to Grizzly Bear,
like yesterday. I say

my favorite song is Two Weeks–
eighth-note piano ends for vocals.
I won’t leave the house for,

at best, two weeks after. But 
I can’t live on only singing.
Spinach seeds. We have to.

The Tendril

Friends seem to love it 
but the flowering plant
in the bathroom creeps
me out. There is a half-
empty/full glass of water 
on the shelf beside 
the dinosaur-cat mug. 
I wonder about that,
too. I guess it depends
on how you look at
the world: the stone-
green leaf reaches for 
your hand or punches 
at your jugular. I want
to say I don’t have
trust issues but
you say you’re taking
a shower and shut
the door, but I know
the steam is watering
the tendrils. These
leaps of light
I can’t provide.

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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