James Croal Jackson
Franklin Avenue in 2015
Two years ago, we would drink tall beers
hidden in black, plastic bags 'til we passed
from laughter, fluttered to fill
our glasses with more.
There would have been more pages
to turn, but none of us spoke our
human language anymore.
Now, a browned frond slumps
between parked cars.
Two teenagers flirt
underneath a palm. Whispered leaves
are fragile– each movement
a link to the next
until it is not.
Their laughs reverberate
when they, too, part. Uncork
those swan bottles–
let them go, graceful
10514 National Blvd
the couch a forlorn slinky
stagnant. f-stop set to zero. focus:
predestined flickering lights
where dreams meet swan
matches and peel, lit & untethered
the air beneath
the vacant couch
warrior of staleness & mildew
ambassador to dust-covered curtains–
shards of dreams
in beams of sun
stream into the room; at least
what is breathed, what can be seen
through blinds in deep sleep–
LeBron Comes Home
Sawdust struck our eyes
when his teeth jawed
themselves against our tree.
constricted us like
When he unclasped,
so did we.
Our bodies slackened
like absolved marionettes.
Held beers became
puddles on bar tables.
The yesterdays burnt
wax into our throats.
Today he is Atlas with the city
perched on his shoulders, the Earth
a lacquered basketball. Willingly,
now, we witness and worship his
every move, drawn by an influence
we ourselves do not carry with
every blink, every breath.
The function is linear. With
each increase of a second, the
distance traveled moves west, inward,
west, a water bottle jammed
beneath the brake pedal, radio
static, velocity dependent on
time, a subset of timing and luck,
on your face embraced
in a cradle on my chest,
the raft-like rhythms never
let me sleep, never being
struck with the affecting
distance per second, the moon an eggdrop
removed from home, gentle snores,
initial velocity of two meant for two,
the intercept x or y, meaningless
letters to write you, no matter
the slope increasing, decreasing:
always feels like falling
when I stop
as we gathered to mourn
the puppy struck by a car
outside of the bank,
i was reminded of glue:
how it encrusts fingers; if
it could seep through skin
it would sleep in your lungs
& heart & hasten the path
to the common rest
they couldn't have fastened
the coffin with glue– too cruel,
if your hand could even summon
the will to move
a square, red magnet fastens
your snow origami valentines forever
to green construction paper, tiny prayers
i hope there is another side, even when i open
the door for orange juice, cool breath of air
within, glass, it breathes, infested
with my own fingerprints, tartness
prior to the swallow
& acceptance– for as long as i am,
you are, too
at four A.M. we drink burning
rivers under the solitary
light hanging from the crusted,
tall white pole perpendicular
to dad's red, handcrafted birdhouse
which spins in the wind.
by five it rains.
we leave the cobwebbed lawn chairs
in darkness and sniffly we travel
to France with rocks in our boots
on hilly sides of streets next to deep ravines.
statues stand tall in driveways
and gleam gargoyle teeth.
sunrise and your baklava smile
is reluctant sweet summer
molasses and you say we will
always be friends but not when
you are cold. I procure a folded
blanket and wrap you in it and
it seemed appropriate (didn't it)
how we didn't know yet how to cross.
for a long time we did not and
miles make for lost time
adrift of the other
You always have to run.
Short North to downtown,
city to city, Indiana
one shoe on gravel,
the other careening
through time and space
into a green
where you are unknown
and your running shoes are empty
at our red swing’s feet.
I know you never run to leave,
driving your horizon eyes
miles to sun– and you, after its setting,
glide beside each highway’s unlit rivers
on the bridge of the median, drunk
from driving so long under moon,
far from where our empty bottles
collect in a skyward infinity,
a mountain of clinking memories–
a marathon, a gap traversed quickly.
Home is on top of my orange blanket
that's a lump in my bed like a
coffin, sweating in the August heat,
knowing you won't call, Pepsi cans tethered
by string three thousand miles