James Croal Jackson

Monochrome photo of an empty coffee shop, looking toward the windows and door. Tall picture windows line one wall with double glass doors on the adjacent wall. Above both the windows and doors are transom windows. An EXIT sign is above the doors. A tall bar-height table with three chairs faces the window closest to the doors. Beside it is a two-person table with one chair visible. In the center of the photo are two two-person tables, positioned at an angle. In the foreground, a chair back is visible. The table tops and floor are wood. Outside the windows a stop sign and light pole are visible. The building across the street is shrouded in scaffolding.

Photo Credit: Roey Ahram/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

I watch the line of people accumulate,
a metaphor in front of me. Because nothing

can exist without some deeper meaning.
How people walk in and out of my life

in this coffee shop and I obsess on
the butterfly effect. I occupy a table,

but there are five open tables. I drink
from a mug, but there are many mugs.

How can everything mean anything
in such insignificance? The chatter

grows louder. I need follow-up reports
for every single person who steps

inside while I am here, especially
those who look and leave quickly.

I need to know how my insignificance
becomes significant—a small gust,



James Croal Jackson is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. He has three chapbooks: Count Seeds With Me (Ethel Zine & Micro-Press, 2022), Our Past Leaves (Kelsay Books, 2021), and The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights, 2017). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, PA.

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