“Getting Sober” by James Croal Jackson

Ekphrastic Challenge, January 2018: Editor’s Choice


Muse Laura Christensen

Image: “Muse” by Laura Christensen. “Getting Sober” was written by James Croal Jackson for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, January 2018, and selected as the Editor’s Choice.

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James Croal Jackson


If I don’t watch it, this lake
is vodka and I won’t care I don’t
know how to swim. Getting sober
is like that. I go out into the world
and look you in the eyes and say
I’m fine. I’m having a good time
and you go on, never knowing
I was half-underwater, that
there was a monster trying
to make its way to the surface
and I had to push him down.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
January 2018, Editor’s Choice

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Comment from the editor: “Rather than illustrating the scene with words, James Croal Jackson uses the image as a metaphor to illustrate his poem. It’s a short, simple poem with a powerful and profound message that I kept thinking about long after reading, and will stay for a long time. So much lurks beneath the surface of each of us—and so much lurks beneath the surface of this poem.”

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