i carry infection in saliva

like a point of pride


see, my city reeks of bone

tall skeleton skyscrapers

i’m numb again


as dental drill enters me

year after year


what birthed my decays?


raised to desire new

wants every day


wanting even wanting


my dad worked at a ford factory

after the great depression


churned out a new kid

every few years


seasons of rust

spreading on steel


here’s the sunset

he’d wake us to say &


spend the days molding

the yard

rough hands on saw


that was satisfactory

to him


for me oaks are cold towers &

grass not godmade


took a clump in my mouth

from the graveyard as a child &


i swear i tasted


but could not digest it


i’m but a skeleton


all life’s experiences

slip through me


masticating childhood

no pondering

the future with mom and dad


scooping fries at ponderosa &


we’d always go for seconds &


mint ice cream after



by James Croal Jackson

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

Listed at Duotrope
Listed with Poets & Writers
CLMP Member
List with Art Deadline
Follow us on MagCloud