Drinking to It & Waking Up Together: 2 Poems by James Croal Jackson





We’re eating Thai food, like we were supposed to do yesterday,

and I tell you that spice level, I couldn’t handle but next I know


we’re walking through alleys shoulder-to-shoulder when you ask

when you gonna talk about the real shit? And we keep on, sun


dipping to avoid the real conversations and I know this box of Stella

in my hand isn’t strong enough to make me start, but in my house


there’s honey whiskey, and I ask if that’s real enough but no,

too much sweetness. We drink anyway, ice falling from freezer


to floor as I reach for Old Crow to hurry to some kind of real talk,

the kind we couldn’t find on our walk to Giant Eagle


but there are bonfires too hot for our hearts in the real world,

a tinder of paper and logs we decide not to learn the names of


and we’re drowning whiskeys, beers, and slow small-talk

telling each other about exes to the flame’s orange humming


and that’s real, I thought, but not real shit and so the hanging lights

are unplugged and we’re searching for stars through clouds of smoke


and we talk about how little we know, how far we want to go

but beside you those stars don’t seem so far and in the swirl


of darkness we kiss, realize that’s the real shit

until we open enough to tell each other.





we woke from something beautiful (kissing

finally alone) only two hours of sleep when melodies

from the other room infiltrate our ears we wonder

where it is we want to take ourselves / where we can

believe in magic that isn’t ours / laying on a pull-out bed

with harsh spring coils like relying on the several bottles

we drank hours before to help us wake up honesty

James Croal Jackson’s poetry has appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Rust + Moth, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. His first chapbook is forthcoming from Writing Knights Press. He is the 2016 William Redding Memorial Poetry Contest winner in his current city of Columbus, Ohio. Visit him at jimjakk.com.


Poems curated by FORTH poetry editors.

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