August Midnight, 1996

By Kimberly Jackson

August Midnight, 1996
141 East 13th Street

In 4A, a thin young woman
Checks the lock the stove the lock
Lies down, gets up to do it all again
Twenty, thirty times before she rests
Shallow sleep of caffeinated brain
Muscles not unfurled
Coiled, as they will be decades later
When she strokes her daughter's hair at bedtime
Swearing silently she will not check downstairs

The women in 4B are drinking, lasciviously
As is their wont.
Gin washing vodka washing champagne washing skin
Bass rippling from their stereo through the walls
My God I love you says the older one through laughter
As if she'll never regret it
And she won't
Even when her tawny beauty's gone

And upstairs the English teacher
Who does not yet know that she has cancer
Is breathing in the smell
Of a man who thinks she's funny
Who will marry her in a dance hall
And who, on the morning the Towers fall, will weep
Not for them but for her, sitting beside him in frozen traffic
When she should be getting chemo
Waiting, dying slowly on a bridge

Above their roof the harvest moon grows dim
Outshone by the city's lambent globe
And the traffic pulses red-white-red through spacetime
Every flash a heart, a mind, a soul
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About Kimberly Jackson

Kimberly G. Jackson is a former academic who now writes and performs poetry just for the love of it. Her work has been published online by the Boston Poetry Magazine, Kind Over Matter, Mobius, Wild Violet, and Words Dance Publishing. Kimberly's first chapbook, Tesseract, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.


  1. Posted March 2015 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Haunted and lovely. Thank you.

  2. John MacLean
    Posted May 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    This was my favorite poem in the issue. The three sketches were beautifully realized, moving back and forth in time from a fixed point, seeming random to the larger city but achingly real to the people who touch those in the individual rooms. Thanks.

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