Jason Jones



On the Rocks with Ms. Bishop


Ice floats in clear gin; it is fused white.
Fusions, or are they fissions, within the viscera
piercing the hulls of hard frozen hysteria
where particles cling covalently clear on white.
Or does the liquor slurp round to rend the ice from without,
drinking it reticently unto itself?
Under the sculled meniscus
does pressure bend these bonds from without?

The fused white keels float in gin, soft and chill.
The pale keels are rising, as thermostatic air
gasses the decks.  I could thumb under the ballasts,
plunging the surface as if egress was of their science,
or as if to proof the cocktail’s aromatic humor.
While the lines of bowed ice sink to crescents,
the lens of curved glass astringes the besieged mixture
—the drinker here navigating the same reluctance
as when supply too neatly suffices demand.

Decanted liquor is more docile than cantoned ice is,
lashing the capsized canoes in its own temperate clarity:
while juniper’s rue, it reeks of ruse, drowses along an easy mariner
woven into the weave she yarns, in denial though she is
Is it just chemistry, or does the ice relish its deliquescence?
—How clear the glassed spirit else the breakfast light is that I find.
Desolation suffers no translucence; it doesn’t bend, it binds.
As deliberate as water’s is this drinker’s deliquescence.


A Good Job Is Hard to Find


It’s to shave bare
my bones, suck dry
my arteries, strike through
my nerves.  Sadness, yes.

But how to find it out?  Well,
that’s what’s dug into

My ground its cleats.

I bet it was I slaved too many
midnights in the dive bars
on the side streets, staring half abob
my groggy eyes at the band

The musicians & the microphones.
O jukebox, for a dollar we would’ve killed

Those moments.  But we lived one, then another.

A vanishing, then an ugly life.
Hard to suckle on now,
the mastected theories,
the Godroot

Jammed like a fork in the socket of their word,
but there is

No proving our mother’s milk.

The end of comedy would come of that, like a middle-
manager into a hallway rendezvous,
leaving headless white collars puzzling
in agreement:

They’ll always pay you enough to get you into debt,
but never enough to get you out.

A reminder of arachnids

Of those who share their homes with insects;
that, bushwacking for raspberries
every new duck or turn reveals new tender,
black fruit

Or, once in awhile, a spider hanging in its web,
like a man out of work

Filthy silken fingers

Wrapped through a chainlink veil
chastising the park.  It’s a careful carelessness
gets me through the workaday blues.
A laying off of the knife.

What work for what pay.
If I owned a bank I’d show the world

More money than was good for it & what the ocean is good for.

It’s to shave bare
my bones, suck dry
my arteries, strike through
my nerves.  Sadness, yes.

It’s taught me.  Taught me well.
Ain’t the taxes evil, it’s the income.

So that what you can’t escape you can’t forget.

With bigots I’ve laughed, with harlots I’ve lain, and with gluttons I’ve dined,
but it’s abolitionists I’ll need to straighten me out,
the straight white American cismale workinggirl
I am:  alter idem—suicide’s kissin’ cousin

Just doing my job, living on paychecks & alarms
that rouse no staying powers, because the timeclock

Don’t keep those hours.






Aloe on my sunburnt shoulders, coppered
vines dangling decadently from a sunbent hickory
a beautiful disease, this burning up
this month

We call it August

Feels good in a midwinter’s dream
age itself:  a deathless spring that’ll sooner speak for me
as the clover patinas under an opal
as motion contemplates the larger restlessness


Like a grey kitten coiled in its own stripes since birth—is it natural
this nature to which we’re born, the exquisite mountains
scarred with exquisite architecture?
Radical augmentation

It takes a thousand consecutive ratiocinative generations & the grandchildren

To build yesterday’s sandcastles; sweat-labor, assiduousness, the old world
undertow to turn a sacred screw; Pontius Pilate
to hammer Herod’s nails; fathomlessness wider than
the albatross in flight to unmasss a heavy stone.

To cruel differences will water wind us

Me to the limestone layaway, stalactite logic, shrewd wet music & you
to the deciduous forest, shoed in soiled foliage & svelte mist
or to a suburb all the colors of a peach in August
on a trolley might we wend?

The answer, sweetheart:

Godspeed, Godspeed to us
peaches sweetening our vegan tongues
cider seeping through cell walls

Godspeed to us, sweet thing of mine—it’s blood
lest we forget
our cannibal guts will digest.




Junk Man Blues


Up the mountain, up the mountain
Up the mountain come hell
Come highwater washing down
I stay looking out for nickels
Take-out containers, cigarettes
Lighters, earrings, hubcaps
Sunglasses, wallets, and checkbooks
Clippers, cups, and caps
Razors and almost empty
Bottles of whisky and water
But the climb’s steep and the sun
Leans heavy on my dark neck

It’s hotter everyday, yes sir
It’s hotter everyday indeed
Summertime and my cart’s full
Winter coat, leather boots
Dungarees, pick and shovel
A haul of boards, a bag of nails
And every bit is up for sale
Got aluminum cans, glass
Bottles and plastic toys, paper
And boxes, tarp and tent-poles
A rope longer ‘n a devil’s tail
Swear to God A’mighty I do

Up the mountain, up the mountain
Up on high I know a lady
Buys junk a nickel a pound
Don’t take no rocks, I got to lift
A manifold and rocking chair
A lawnmower like a stack o’ lumber
A monkey-wrench else an anvil
A chair, a tire, a bowling ball
Earth don’t give so easy
To a man like me, I got to work
But one way ‘r another I’ll put my cart up
That hill, one way ‘r another I will

It’s hotter everyday, yes sir
It’s hotter everyday up here
But I got a man got the good
Ten bucks a foil, carries a glock
And can’t be found ‘less you know
How in a hilltop town; my dude
Got pills, got powder, got rock
And in the dying dusted light he’ll get
Ev’ry dime I got for ev’ry stone
With what he’ll part and fair or not
It’s shake hands then leave dude
Up on top, no place else to go

Down the mountain, down the mountain
Down the mountain, yes ma’am
Cart half-empty, a polished bolt
A flash ahaulin’ down that hill
For the river, the valley
The cover of a shade tree
Got my lighter, my copper and stem
And Lord knows got my stone
For in the heat of the sun I’ll sprawl
Down low in the darkness
Down where I can do the deed
Oh, where I can do the deed.








Jason Jones recently relocated to Charleston, SC from Roanoke, VA. New poems can be found in Saw PalmThe Cumberland River ReviewDark Matter, and Wraparound South.

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