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I am cooking on the half-broken grill– knobs

stuck, burner busted– you left when you moved


out. This rack of ribs burning on foil– that's you.

You and I are through. Perhaps not; I'm famous


(in my mind) for my inability to settle a squabble,

however small, how I raise the temperature until


the whole meal's scorched in this final summer

on the lease. The charcoal smoke remains nostalgic


in the atmosphere but this pig is dead, has been

and the house hasn’t felt the same for months,


weeds crawling around the wooden baseboard,

the dishwasher sobbing in the clutter of its mess.


I am throwing everything I own into black bags

to be disposed of Thursday, on the precipice


of a move, how much grease I’ve scraped from this

squealing machine, all this hunger turned to waste.


Photograph by Lauren Smothers


James Croal Jackson (he/him) swore he'd never work in the film industry again after leaving Los Angeles. He has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and poems in Columbia Journal, Rattle, and Reservoir. He edits The Mantle. Currently, he works in the film industry in Pittsburgh, PA.


Lauren Smothers works at a locally-owned grocery and health store in downtown Jackson, Tennessee.

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