Raven Jackson





he tells me

they died in cameroon—

that i smell like the first

woman he brought inside

himself, the hum of mangroves

a wild field in her hair.



roaches come again

but i’m in coils of sea

with papa and the spearfish

he caught: the stained photo of them

buried beneath nothing i call my own.



lightning or footsteps bring worms

to sidewalks. girls with cracked teeth

throw glass, hug streets the color of drains.



stay still, he says.



we make our fingers wet as bulbs

above our heads, mistake them

for something we’d beg

to call light.

After the Fire



Plants Mama should have swallowed as seeds

swelled from mud like crippled


legs. She’d sit on the porch, a green jar of pickles

bouncing on her knees, tires

eating stone.


Granddaddy said a horse’s hooves run deeper

than the first shovel slice of a grave.


Listen how tires rise over stones.


Touch your chin to glass

and you’ll know what bottom is. 


RAVEN JACKSON is a second-year MFA candidate in poetry at The New School and a Cave Canem fellow. A native of Tennessee, she is currently the Online Editorial Fellow at Poets & Writers.