"I was going to throw away the water," "The Bird an Echo," and "To Sara (From Kermit)"

I was going to throw away the water

I was going to throw away the water
bottle then the river spoke: DO NOT

I was transformed. Red bumps rose
along the collar of my hand and I
scratched until boredom overtook
the revelation, the epiphany being
waste is measured in days I do
what I don’t want to be doing.
Rise with me past the prehistoric
era. I’ve chewed on ash rocks
for eternity. Dentistry
has not been kind. The drills
are getting longer, the routines
blurrier, my eyesight already
a ten twenty or whatever
the technical term for
poor, as in destitute,
as in the cursive graffiti
on the side of a brick
house on the road I live on,
the one-word message
sprawled in yellow
teeth I see every time
I smile widely
in a mirror,
any time I disappear
into a ripple.



The Bird an Echo

Above me, wing soundwaves visible, a flapping
back to easier days, a communal grass I could
not know I was missing, but did. Voices in my head
clamor for them, always, from windows in the bathroom,
the glowing lights’ buzz, this temporary body, not simply
the hands washed, nor the heart, the mouth, the tongue,
each breath, each thrill, each paper airplane landing on
its own brown rectangle of nothing.



To Sara (From Kermit)

This world you teach me is velvet
mice in your palm, on the carpet,
in my teeth, repeat. And the silver
crinkle ball that shines purple in sun
light that I cannot stop batting across
the floor. I sometimes push it into
that unreachable darkness underneath
the couch downstairs. DQ told me there
once was a cat who left and never
returned, and she thinks about him
constantly, expecting him each entrance
of outside light, and I tell her no, there’s only
me and you, and I run around the house,
seeking his faint traces. And she tells me of days–
long, unimaginable days– when no one is around
and you just have to bide your time and wait.
It seems so lonely. I run to her and
she screams and retreats into the Cavern of
Bags. I follow her in too deep. Please
tell me you will always be around.
I need someone here to complete
such important work, this
drive inside that bursts and blooms
its way across the corners
of these rooms I’m learning,
this love I newly navigate far
from small, stuffed cages
I used to think
was the world
until I met the space
within your affection,
a bond of greater



James Croal Jackson

James Croal Jackson is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. His latest chapbooks are A God You Believed In (Pinhole Poetry, 2023) and Count Seeds With Me (Ethel Zine & Micro-Press, 2022). Recent poems are in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, The Lakeshore Review, and The Round. He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Check out jamescroaljackson.com. James recommends 1Hood Media.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, January 19, 2023 - 22:06