Because Tony once said he knew
Columbus and Los Angeles the way I do
I have not yet developed a poetry of
for Pittsburgh. Three years in and
still the surprise hills, the way I always
feel– still– an outsider wending my way
through confusing streets. I’ve worked with
Kailee’s dad longer than I lived with Paige
and still we haven’t had a deep conversation.
Everywhere I go there remains a sense of some
thing deep that needs to be explored. The way
I walked Los Angeles streets at night–
the endless sprawl– must be the same,
but Pittsburgh’s smaller, the graffiti
more familiar, how it’s all a sketch of home.


James Croal Jackson is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. He has three chapbooks: Count Seeds With Me (Ethel Zine & Micro-Press, 2022), Our Past Leaves (Kelsay Books, 2021), and The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights, 2017). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, PA. (jamescroaljackson.com)