The Neighborhood

The Neighborhood by James Croal Jackson

 

(originally published in Parentheses Journal, Fall 2017)

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Victorian Village / West Adams

Walking over paved bricks
under sunlight in January,
it is quiet enough
to hear the earth shiver
from her breath, far
from the Los Angeles heat
I grew used to– a hundred
police cars wailing down
Vermont past blurs
of fleeting sidewalks,
boarded-up businesses
adorned in graffiti,
and dead black bags
full of not-Autumn
leaves.

 

(originally published in Home Planet News Online, 2017)

Existential Ketchup

got a heinz bottle full of regrets
but it’s dried up as the crust of red’s
lost its use     you try to squeeze something
from an old heart and look how flappily
it beats sags and wheezes    yet I got a cold bag
of wendy’s to share salted and soggy
on our porch in december rain    I said
to go to be tax-free    and carefree yes
but on the swinging bench white-bagged I see
your face in wendy’s and your eyes some
sad fake black     pocket’s full of lint and loose change
and can’t stop sliding my hands in to feel my legs
burning with desire to get up and build trash
cans from scrap at the edge of the yard
then wait for the passersby
to throw their guilty pleasures in

 

(originally published in FLAPPERHOUSE, Fall 2017)

29th & Vermont

bone-worn dog & hung head asked high kids holding lemons,
tangy hair in the air, zest & bitter tantalus–

went to dumpster-cat (blackberry feet)
sick of white gloves, guttural mews.

coarse throat, bumpy pink tongue trickled yesterday’s juices,
held the water, blue sky whirring, whirring– engines / exhaust!

icecream trucks! brahms overture, mary had a little lamb
escaped from jail with vanilla dripping down her hands–

pigeon following, little pecks, boots collected
sidewalk grime and ran, ran, ran!

ask the man skin dandruff collecting flies–
there’s no more room in this bone-white van

still raise you head high, tide bring ‘em to shore
hang you head on my leg say the moon help me beg!

 

(originally published in Eunoia Review, February 2016)

A Walk Through Palms

When there’s nothing special about a sunset
lined with palms, there is nothing special.

Trees jut from behind roofs
like green skinny beanstalks extended forever.

Every plane a UFO.

Breathe the collective breaths of everyone.

Walks should be alone,
watching crows circle majestically
above stacks of garbage
bags in shopping carts.

Soon there are words:
first a sweeping hush,
a low hum.
Then the revving of neighbors
and their chatty sportscars.

The emissions enter the brain.
Then the atmosphere.
Whatever that is
is not what I am looking for.

 

(originally published in The Quotable – 2015)