I Used to Dream I’d Get So High. 3 Poems by James Croal Jackson


purple palm 
trees on your tank 
top       pink fingernails
clutching milkshake
you sip sun
drenched    Polaroid 
aiming into brick 
wall     red curtain
in the breeze palm 
trees    sky
behind you
all of the future in front

Wrap Party at Arsenal Bowl

Last time we were in this spot,
we broke glasses. on the real-or-
fake (which is it?) marble table.

In my memory, the entire
room is burgundy. wine-
tinted, but I won't let

go, the conviction
of all that spilled
that night, my

mouth, my heart,
the sticky nature
of the surface

that we had
yet to place
our hands on.

I Used to Dream I’d Get So High

Last night, I dreamt I stood
on a tall stack of books, gathered
with others around a roof

like we were at a dinner party.
When I glanced down– finally,
from the top of my tenuous skyscraper,

I had to brace my shoe against
the house to keep myself
from falling back into reality,

but I did anyway, repeating
to the guests anxiety, 
anxiety, anxiety.

I used to dream I’d get so high,
anything was possible. I entered a tower,
beelined to the elevator, and pushed 

the button to the top. Sometimes 
the platform was already ascending. 
Sometimes the whole structure was. 

When the doors (if they existed) parted,
the view from the sky was so rich,
I had to be dreaming. Deep tree greens.

Eternal ocean blue. I returned
to this view often, but stopped
near the end of my twenties. I was 

itinerant at the time, my life 
still an open road ahead
of me. A million meanings yet

to interpret. Not yet bogged by
a steady job but not quite steadied,
living off the promises of strangers 

and the engine of my Ford Fiesta, 
emitting exhaust into the atmosphere,

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, Little Patuxent Review, and The Round. He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (jamescroaljackson.com)

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