Book shout: Our Past Leaves by Bindweed contributor, James Croal Jackson

Congratulations to Bindweed contributor, James Croal Jackson, on the publication of his second poetry collection, Our Past Leaves, by Kelsay Books.

James has contributed poetry to Bindweed and has been published in Issue 10 and Issue 11.

We wish you all the best with your latest book, James!


James Croal Jackson – 4 poems

Thanksgiving, 2019


I can’t sit at the dining table

& listen to the morning swarm


of words buzzing around my hair

hovering not entering my ears    


(this tablecloth of hardened rice

& wide-angled magenta lotus flowers).


To come home is to steam tradition      

& I admit love is a dry chunk of it.   


But my patience does not endure.

The turkey in the oven has been


dressed with salt & oil since 3 A.M.

Soon we will eat our wounds.



This Old Table Means So Much to You


Tripod mahogany plate. The ceiling

leaks– nowhere for rain. The cat’s self-

cleaning beside treble clef legs. The robot

vacuum learns floor secrets below.

Purple grape stems. Vent dust

from the void. I left you a voicemail

on a no outlet road. I read a few pages

tonight. Shower steam dissipates

slowly into starlight.


The Hunger


First were fruits drifting down like feathers,

their sugar shells & caramel centers gooey.


When the fruits stopped fruiting, she scraped

off the tree’s gingerbread bark using flint


as a spatula. Next gone were leaves–

the sweet ones– but the branches chewed


like celery so were spat out. Feet swollen,

hands rugburn red, she climbed all


night, eating, the tree only sour leaves

& skeleton, exposed heart beating


before a death between teeth, strawberry ice

cream gushing past the mauve, ravenous moon.


Inevitable Change


surf another wave

of cyclical maturation


I am who I am, you

are who you are–


static trust– your white

noise a velcro


loosening of being

unhinged– I leave cities


faster than lovers, cruise

the interstate in blindfolds


before rumble strip sobers

me beyond the paved path

James Croal Jackson (he/him/his) is a Filipino-American poet. He has two chapbooks, Our Past Leaves (Kelsay Books, forthcoming 2021) and The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), with recent poems in White Wall Review, Subnivean, and Thin Air. He edits The Mantle Poetry ( from Pittsburgh, PA. (


James Croal Jackson – 3 poems

How We Talk About Settling


Wet from the mansion still

writhing beneath us. Red

gold halls and long tongue


-like carpets. I could not

say what I wanted to say

except get me out of here.


But we were young, yesterday,

sipping free whiskey

in the aftermath of


condolences. Burnt

our throats going






The Similarities


between you both are more Picasso

Pollack than Leibovitz     however

much I disengage    the Oculus will never

be Pennsylvania    though I have advanced

technology in my pocket    (I still have

the broken faces we captured)  I seek

the thin thread between real   what

I wish to be real   where I want to go

if time ever bends into black hole

I’ll head back home to Ohio and give

a hug to everyone    I somehow love

as an alarm    or Chekhov’s gun

telling   you are the people I still love

in the future you will reassemble into

magazine collage   and still resemble

the hummus-stained server in 2012




Office (August)


is this how you spend your days? laundry

filthy as furniture.

the room cold between two

worlds. I am awash in

transition: upbringing /


give me a place to call home

I am stuck in the wedge


wanting nothing

but your long arms around

the circumference of

my body. here is

the ticking clock

a timepiece


allowing sea change

along the equator


east of my brain sees desire in

a sleeping blanket. I am trying

to wrap my mind around

the absence

of the life it





James Croal Jackson (he/him) has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and poems in Pacifica, Reservoir, and Rattle. He edits The Mantle ( Currently, he works in the film industry in Pittsburgh, PA. (


James Croal Jackson – 3 poems

Existential Food Poems


After reading five food poems in a row,

I paused, told the audience I get inspiration

from food. I meant energy, really.

At home, sometimes, I sit at the table

eating noodles and suddenly

I am at the table eating noodles!

I look at the floppy strings

on my plate and ask myself

what I’m doing. Converting

loose ends to energy, according

to education. Google tells

me to stop eating so many noodles

but to stop means I’m

no longer energy– the will

to go on. These laces

tying my stomach

consumed by gastric acids

transform into aminos

that fuel me, somehow,

these noodles that don’t

make sense but somehow

allow my string of days

to keep dangling, serve

me on a plate so that

I may have the right

to exist, so I can fall

in love with someone

and they can fall,

too, and steam

until we cool enough

for them to stick

their fork in me,

then wonder, what

am I doing? The

fork swivels,


a tornado

of noodles.





Further, Further



I know the pang of distance / ghost of friendship cold air

conditioned inauthentic rumblings no more / passage into

the familiar / sea / a yellow boat rocks near the Atlantic

shore / I evade the sun / seek any shade to shield myself

of affection / affected by the moon / far apart again no /

vacation for the heart






In Pittsburgh, the First Time,



you told me Friendship is a road

split by two roads, parallel to Liberty,

and I told you that was a poem,

but you said, no, I’m just giving you

direction, and I looked up from your eyes

to the green sign reading Friendship Ave

and knew what you meant. Friendship–

we had yet to spend our first night

in the city, one that would end in

a dark cocktail bar for a dance party

that never materialized. In the morning,

we rode rented bicycles with bent

spokes and a click in their spinning

and I could only follow your lead

and cycle through streets still unfamiliar

to me– we weaved through lonely roads

to the Strip District, then stopped

at the Sixth Street Bridge to admire

the glimmer of the river that warm

winter day and continued until

we found the hill to Randyland

too steep to ride so, off our bikes,

we walked side-by-side up the path

until reaching our destination;

we locked our broken bikes

and kept walking.







James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in Columbia Journal, Rattle, Hobart, Reservoir, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle, a poetry journal, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Find him at and @jimjakk.