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James Croal Jackson

                             World Series, 2019


First baseball game I’ve seen this season– game seven

of the World Series, Houston versus Washington. A sea

of orange in Texas. Scherzer versus Springer. Joe Buck

talks about muscle injections, pinched nerves, breaking

ball– full count. He says this series is full of big swings,

big emotions– isn’t that a normal week? Dad watched

every Cleveland game. Ever. For a summer I did,

too, but October is chillier than usual. Last week, we

buried my oldest brother. We used to play sports

games– Triple Play 2000, Gran Turismo– on the

basement’s cold, brown carpet, where all physics

hurtled toward inevitable destinations: a ball singing

through the air into a blurry glove, or tires spinning

through some grainy tunnel. We’d trade wins, half-

luck, but there was always a conclusion. Last year,

I held his hand in the hospital. He squeezed my

fingers and said what he couldn’t with his eyes.

Last week, he didn’t get the kidney he needed.

When Washington wins, I see men cry on each

other’s shoulders. When my brother dies, my brother

cries on my shoulder. I cry on his shoulder.

And when we look at each other,

we find someone we both miss.

                               Jessie Must Think I Am Pathetic


Another gray sky day, empty gas tank worries in the countryside

nowhere don’t you long for my touch? Oz runs just far enough

for the bone against the backdrop of my outstretched arm

hand out fingers extended & I don’t know where I stand with Jessie

except she must find me pathetic as she walks into water under the

influence of Dr. Dog & now she swim-dances the past three days she’s

walked along the rock edge of the pool. & now I need to text Tony Z.

what’s a man most afraid of? I’m getting used to inadequacy. Oz brings

his bone to the other side of the fence. Jessie says she misses the green,

the pool purified at the beginning. Sara throws pong ball through

the hole of a lime lifesaver floatie and a butterfly metaphor soars

above the water. Have you ever almost drowned on drugs? I don’t

recommend it. The lesson is gravity’s not the occasionally falling apple

but the drifting leaf toward the other side, whatever the definition. September

third and we just got our first sunburns. Hannah leaves the house after

work and like a magic trick, three pong balls appear in the water

and the sun reveals itself a moment. Oz lays in the grass in front

of me before a philosophical discussion about casserole and how to cope

with beans bought at the beginning of pandemic we will never eat.

James Croal Jackson - 2021.jpg

James Croal Jackson (he/him) is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. He has two chapbooks, Our Past Leaves, Kelsay Books, 2021 and The Frayed Edge of Memory, Writing Knights, 2017 with one forthcoming: Count Seeds With Me (Ethel, 2022). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, PA. (

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