North Carolina Wedding

James Croal Jackson

I don’t know anyone
but the gnats swarming
around me &

the stranger
next to me calls them
wedding bugs

marriage begins with wings
then seeks blood
sucking glimpse of sweat

on skin sugar all the single
guests swat at the air
around them familiar

the way we complain
of heat so beg
for rain to form in

these shrouds of clouds
to cool us down
it’s nice to have something

tangible to wish for

James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in FLAPPERHOUSE, Yes Poetry, Serving House Journal, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle, a poetry journal. Find him in Columbus, Ohio or at

Before the Razor
A look inside the creative process of “North Carolina Wedding”

“North Carolina Wedding” was written and edited in June, 2017 on my phone right before my friend’s wedding ceremony in the garden at Barclay Villa in Angier, North Carolina.
I had left my house in Columbus, Ohio and drove eight hours to the wedding, arriving twenty minutes before it was scheduled to begin. I was stressed out. Rarely do I write a poem on my phone, but this was the first opportunity I had all day to write something down, and my brain was buzzing from coffee and the adrenaline of making it in time. And of course the ceremony was delayed.


I was in a weird mood when I arrived because I didn’t know anyone else at the wedding. I had RSVP’d too late to bring my girlfriend, so I had a lot of anxiety from not knowing anyone and not being good at fitting in. I’m pretty sure I was writing the poem while the other guests complained about how hot it was. I was right there with them. We were all thirsty and sweating (no shade from the sunlight!) in 90-degree heat and all these weird bugs kept swarming around us. I can’t remember ever wanting a wedding to start– and end– more than I did that one. I think writing and editing this poem was necessary to get through that uncomfortable time.