I heard on the radio about a career in photonics
so I did research, and it involves quantum physics
and light manipulation. NPR made it seem like
the simplest shit ever, that if you were good with
your hands you could master it. As a freshman in
high school numbers were jumbled in pre-algebra.
I was the weakest link of the Academic Challenge
team, sitting on the sidelines during the matches.
When does one need an alternate in a trivia
extracurricular? Does someone squint their
brain too hard and need a breather? I’m trying to
figure it out. I coasted through college on a 3.0
because I was expected to go. And one time
the alumni “giving” center called and asked me
for a donation when I lived in my car in California.
I told them I was sleeping by the beaches, eating
canned beans and tuna. They said they were sorry
but could I please spare a twenty? They couldn’t.
James Croal Jackson (he/him) is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. He has two chapbooks (Our Past Leaves, Kelsay Books, 2021 and The Frayed Edge of Memory, Writing Knights, 2017) with one forthcoming: Count Seeds With Me (Ethel, 2022). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, PA. (jamescroaljackson.com)