James Croal Jackson


I tell my girlfriend I love her

before we go to bed every night.

I tell her I love her in front of

slot machines spinning statistics,


neon colors blinding eyes beyond

our blur of vodka. I tell her I love her

before we fight in a tent on the beach

drunken under blankets and after that, too.


I don't tell my mom I love her

on the phone when she’s alone

in her bedroom, when she cries

many nights because her twenty-


nine year marriage exists only in memories,

photographs, marginalia, in musk

of dried sweat on forest-green cargos.

He had dragged an oak limb


after soft rain; now crusted mud–

crevices alive in the treading

of boots traces new footsteps

on less-traversed floors.


James Croal Jackson’s poetry has appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Rust+Moth, Whale Road, and other publications. He grew up in Akron, Ohio, spent a few years in Los Angeles, traveled the country in his Ford Fiesta, and now lives in Columbus, Ohio. Find more at jimjakk.com.