THE WHOLE WORLD OR NOTHING
You suggested whiskey sours
so we left the reading
to walk the golden streets in rain
during the first warm day
which felt like hope–
a riptide cascading
through the chaos of cars
and people on city streets.
Like you, gravel is full of scars
and we trample it under our soles
What do we pray to but the future,
its corpuscular horseshoe
on her way? We are swift
without wind, carving footsteps
in Bukowski’s tattered ambitions.
And when we finally reach the bar’s
back patio with sour piling into our mouths
you strip to your white dress
and show me your tattoos.
We wanted the whole world or nothing.
The sun, the moon, not one or the other.
The stars’ breaths on the nape
of your neck. Every word tingles
the first time celestial bodies meet.
I am cratered with my drink,
this treat and chilled escape.
The staircase leads downward.
I showed you how pawns function
on a glass chessboard
they sacrifice themselves to protect who they love
and what rooks and knights risk
in the modern age
there is a hierarchy in how to approach things
cigarette smoke permeated the wooden air
a phonograph streamed Brahms
I could never quite understand complexity
we sat on couch crumbs with our jeans touching
your friend gave me a rare Bahamian seashell
mottled with beige and caramel
I could not hear the ocean
no matter how hard it pressed against my ear
but with my head against your chest
I remember the beating tide
back then I was composed of sand
scooped whole by strangers hands
learning the gravity of myself
I will build you a castle
James Croal Jackson is a writer, filmmaker, and occasional rapper. His first ever poetry publication was with Walking is Still Honest back in September 2013 but has since been published in places such as The Bitter Oleander, Columbia College Literary Review, and Lines+Stars. Find more of his work at http://www.jimjakk.com.