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Darren Jackson


Show and Tell

The second time I presented a rattler in a mason jar,
the principal phoned mother to remove me
and the glass encased evil cradled between tiny hands.
I was five
and that was when father wanted to collar me
with leash and bell

since I kept vanishing into the desert
to catch snakes that were all poisonous,
curled to strike like sin, he said
and tried to exorcise from me
with hand cut switches each time
the principal called to say incorrigible.

Maybe it’s true. Nothing worked, neither
spankings nor sermons kept me from the open desert
where eyes widened with each step
to take in the mystery of sun and sky
beyond the horizon’s curve: how they burn
and how, climbing this lift of dune,
the earth burns,
the fire, me and them.



The Sum of It

It’s just the way of things—to push
From the soil. Not made
The way we make ourselves each morning in the mirror,
Each hour in the office, the grocery
Or pub, catching one’s reflection
In a tinted window
To run hands through hair, adjust
Collar and tie. The numberless days
Window shopping for that look—the glamour
Of fifteen minutes under the spots. Seated here
In the grass with you, I cannot answer
The contrivance of daffodils—I can’t say they pose
Anymore or less than the harvest moon,
That orange on the surface of the lake.




My shadows stumble over mountain, in
any language—one breath bound and released:

they trip over the span of the Atlantic; the Pyrenees,
Alps on this side; the Applachians, Rockies

over there. My words
bathing in the Mediterranean

cast shadows across cacti
on Llano Estacado; the same shadow

strolls aimlessly through snow
among the piñon on Mt. Elden—

the shadows as much me as I:

on the street, wet with morning rain,
by the train station where rooflines square,

open a gash in sky
where a flock of small, brown birds

played, surging back and forth.
A man paces ahead stopped

midstep to look up,
stopping me as well:

sparrows peppering the creek of gray-blue,
hovering one second before floating past

the walls, opening like a veil.


Darren Jackson teaches English and creative writing for TVI in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and studies Latin and Spanish at the University of New Mexico. Recent work has or will appeared in Pivot and Smartish Pace.
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