"Rock Climbers," "May, 2020" and "An Unending Thing"

Rock Climbers

When I am with you
I heavily reference rock-
climbing– as Link in Hyrule,
running up pixel mountains,
or goofy James in Lawrenceville
driving slowly along Butler–
neither of us possess the desire
of upper-body strength to tackle
Ascend in the South Side
or any of a hundred gyms.
Perhaps the draw is
inevitability– of higher
elevations, the thrust
of everything
we have been through
until now leading
us to now, days
of learning each other
stacking, stacking,
a naïve game of Jenga
or a giant rock reverse-
eroding, becoming
larger with the damage
of water, our paths
turning numerous tenfold as
they guide us skyward.
I admit– I am still floating
on your laugh. We
played Zelda on
your Switch in bed,
feet pressed against
each other’s softness
of sock and yes,
Link is on some grand
mission to save
the princess, or
he was, at some
point, in earlier games,
but we are here
to enjoy the climb.



May, 2020

What privilege to curbside pick-up in a mostly-empty parking
lot in a pandemic
                         we were outside of Greentree
and the 6 PM 376 West logjam did not exist
             but I joked I’d forgotten how to drive through Pittsburgh
so jilted by a Wrong Way sign in the center of a road split
Narrow concrete paths overlooking Allegheny. The brisk sun and
blooming. It’s May now and I’m laughing, terrified the closest
      I’m ever going to get to a person is still between the steel
         barrier of trunk and window.



An Unending Thing

I don’t want to burn
in our everlasting sun
or drown in the endless
ocean of our truth I have
traveled wide in the waves
of time I have lived in the infinite
space of my mind unending
I want to embrace the simple
beauty of this world and
all I have to do is watch creatures
flying and swimming through
their brief and precious lives



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, May 2, 2024 - 13:01