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