Tuesday, December 29, 2020

James Croal Jackson Nailed to a Bed, a Clarinet Falsetto, a Sky Painted with Eyes, Weedwacker Zen, and Hearts Propped Up

 I do not want to sleep I want to get smashed

but I fall asleep it is Friday my youth

is waning. Please tell me every time

you want me there. I love to say I

will think about it. And I will. To

feel if the sun will warm the air

enough to drink gallons the death

of me. I want you to nail me

down I want to stay in bed I want to

surround myself with hanging lights

and loud whiskey-drinkers and dance

around smashed Bud Light bottles

gleaming with the force of recent

desire– someone leaving their

own temporal body, someone

leaving their wallet behind,

someone leaving the world

so damn lonely now.

At Crazy Mocha (Shadyside)

I don’t know what you’re saying–

I was just baptized in sensory deprivation

saltwater. You took an Adderal

to live in your tornado of case papers,

clacking away at the keyboard buzzing

with school sentences I do not crave

to understand. From the speakers, jazz

dances uneven through honeyhive fluorescents

above us. I scoot my chair in closer

to the table, and there is a squeak either

from my movement or a clarinet falsetto.

Sometimes the world is synchronized;

sometimes a miracle I make excuses for.

I held the planet’s limestone on my neck

when I was afloat– it became weightless.

rust goggles

art began as a war against walls

everything in a painting was in danger of being lost

every object that has been moved every one

that has been smoothed every piece

outlined was once a living breathing being

water can dissolve rocks

paint on a canvas can bruise

an audience can be traumatized by art that is not lost

intertwining history with the present

is the divide between

good times things

and bad times things

  good times being the sky painted with eyes

  and bad times the sleepless nights we want

 a different kind of archive

art being our act of evasion

Grandview Heights

I need this walk through the suburbs

 summer heat has me a certain way

 lovers have me a certain way

I need to clear my head with the zen

of weedwackers droning, an SUV’s blur and

whoosh, lawnmowers torturing the grass–

white noise, white birds, white hybrids.

walked with white sneakers in the mud

last night drunk in the rain through an alley

Eggs Balloons

we inflated important 

words empty laughs

being sound balloons

attached to inflatable

proppable hearts buy twelve

in a bag for a dollar eggs break

the yolks watch that grease

pour into morning pans

James Croal Jackson (he/him/his) is a Filipino-American poet. He has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and recent poems in DASH, Sampsonia Way, and Jam & Sand. He edits The Mantle (themantlepoetry.com). He works in film production in Pittsburgh, PA. (jamescroaljackson.com)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Neil Fulwood Calls The Beelzebub Headline From The Rabbit Hole While Belching Vituperative Lyrics


Welcome to the Beelzebub Automated Helpline.

After some pointless introductory verbiage 

you will be directed - not asked: directed -

to choose from the following options:

Press 1 if you are calling about the diametric opposite

of whatever it is you are actually calling about.

Press 2 if you are calling about a service

you didn’t even know we provided. Press 3

for trade enquiries if you are VAT registered,

or 4 for trade enquiries if you are not. Press 5

if you prefer things cash in hand and without receipt

and you will be transferred to another department.

We won’t say which one. If you are calling

to enter our Big Bonanza Giveaway Competition,

please press 6. If you are calling to complain 

that our Big Bonanza Giveaway Competition

has already closed, please press the hash key.

If you are calling to complain that using the hash key

automatically terminates your call, please press 7

followed by the hash key. For accounts payable,

customer services, deliveries, refunds, marketing,

procurement, job opportunities or general enquiries,

please press 8 then make your selection

from the appropriate sub-options. Please press 9

to hear these options again. Thank you 

for calling the Beelzebub Automated Helpline. 

Please hold. Indefinitely. 


Down the rabbit hole, folks,

through the looking glass,

the Mad Hatter’s in control

and he hates the underclass.

There’s a tea party here, folks,

for Earl Grey’s posh friends only.

The underclass, they have no beer

now the pubs are closed. It’s lonely

in not-so-wonderful wonderland, folks,

and the lack of fun never stops.

The Blue King’s methods are underhand

and the playing cards are cops.

Off with the poet’s head, folks,

decapitate the dissenters.

“Hail the Blue King!” it’s gushingly said

by the BBC presenters.

The rabbit hole emerges, folks,

in the square of the polling booth,

the Cheshire Cat’s mirrored in grinning urge,

but the fox has a sharper tooth.

A sharper claw as well, folks,

as the Blue King will come to know.

At the fox’s command, unleash all hell;

unleash more at the word of the crow.


“... one little god falling over the next ...” - C.P. Cavafy


The little god of work spat you out

of its cubicle-temple about an hour ago

with a reminder - as tetchily demanding

as only gods can be - that your devotions

are expected again tomorrow. Your devotions

and the usual sacrifice of energy wasted

and time you’ll never reclaim. Tomorrow 

and all the weekdays to come, in the name

of the job description and the peer review, amen.


The little god of soulless chain pubs appeared to you

like a vision on the long traffic-strung road

out of the inner city. And demanded your devotions.

Worship not the idols of micropub or independent 

brewery. The god of corporate beer

has given unto thee a car park and thou

should be thankful. Attend to the Monday Club menu

and drink deep of the imperfectly cellared ale.

Do this in the name of the shareholders. Amen.


The little god of Little Waitrose or Tesco Metro

or Sainsbury’s Local thrust the collection plate

of its understaffed check-outs in the path of your wallet

and your debit card proved it knew its catechism.

You followed the call-and-response as conditioned:

you were told the wares were good and you bought,

you were told to enter your pin code and you did so gladly,

you were thanked for your custom and you were grateful

as one who isn’t shot by a kidnapper is grateful. Amen.


Enter now your home, enter under porch or car-port

or front door opening from street to living room.

Enter now with tie loosened and shuck off

your jacket and know that your benedictions 

have only just started. The little god of unopened mail

will not be satisfied until you have bent the knee

like a Daily Mail reader to a royal and accepted

into your life the holy artefacts of begging letter,

final reminder, kebab shop flyer and credit card 

application form. The little god of online banking

expects no less than the sacrifice of all you hold dear -

this week’s beer money - and by way of warning

preaches to you the Parable of the Bailiff,  the only 

sacred text in which we’re ‘ere fer ya  faakin’ telly 

is said unto anyone. The little god of the packed lunch

reminds you of piety and self-abnegation (lo!

thou hast no money for the false idol of the cob van)

and you humble yourself with medium-thick white

scraped with low-fat spread and ham cut thinner

than a heathen’s conscience. The little god of shirts

would have you know that the ironing board

was not created for you to desecrate the evening 

in the service of Netflix or Pornhub or Instagram,

that the power of Morphy Richards compels you, 

now and till Friday, amen. The little god of detergent 

delivers the Sermon on the Mound of Unwashed Pots

Piled Up in the Sink and would cast you out 

of the temple of basic hygiene standards except

you’d only go down the pub. Upon thee is cast the mark

of the scouring pad. The little god of the evening paper

conducts you in a chorus of hallelujahs: celebrity 

gossip - sing hallelujah; skewed political commentary -

sing hallelujah; poodle-haired sports star takes home

the gold - sing hallelujah; who wore it best at whatever -

sing hallelujah. The little god of hoovering is displeased

and the little god of dusting no happier. The little god

of the oven ready meal receives your half-arsed

observations of stir and re-cover with displeasure

and visits upon your kitchen a week-long reek of garlic

and, still vituperative, smites your lower intestine.

Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham, where he still lives and works. He has two poetry collections with Shoestring Press: No Avoiding It and Can’t Take Me Anywhere. He also co-edited the Alan Sillitoe tribute volume, More Raw Material.