Saturday Apr 13

JacksonMarcus Marcus Jackson was born in Toledo, Ohio. His poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Harvard Review, The Cincinnati Review, among many other publications. He has received fellowships from New York University and Cave Canem. His chapbook, Rundown, was published by Aureole Press. A professor at Middle Tennessee State University, his debut collection of poems, Neighborhood Register, was released in the Fall of 2011.



There remain some black and white photos
of my mama, snapped the August she left
for college. She’s wearing a dark, long-sleeved

velvet dress, half an oval cut between
the shoulders, showing her clavicle.
The shoot ensued at the eastern skirts

of some woods, light leaking through the leaves.
In my favorite of these frames, she’s looking
to her right, her face and eyes bearing a fierce

vulnerability. She was soon to begin
studying acting—at a school with touted
teachers, a city with buildings that took

steel bites of sky. In this shot, she peers
off-camera as if, at sixteen, she already sees
the brutal plentitudes waiting to break her.


I stood in my underwear, the iron
clicking toward readiness. In yesterday’s
slacks and wife-beater, my dad smoothed a leg

of my Lees on the timeworn pressing-board.
Steam seeped between the denim and metal.
I dressed, the clothes warm as a second flesh,

my dad finding some duct tape, wrapping his hand
tacky side out. He patted lint from my chest
and shoulders; my kidneys echoed when he tapped

my back. I left for a day of first grade, light
sliding into our slim street like a blade
into a sheathe, my dad ironing his own clothes

before once more entering a town
keen at cutting the wrong men down.