To My Friend


June 22, 2018 by Laird



by Laird Barron




We held a séance.

Our voices floated past the bloody curtain

Where the forest of night is veins and nerves repeating

Where thought is a lash.

Jack pecked (flinty beak) against the shell of the great dark

To let in starlight cancelled and a kaleidoscope

Ran thick as black yolk behind his fractured skull

Behind everything.



To be born:

Jack tapped against absolute zero adamantium

A shiver pierced the void. An ululation.

Blackbirds rose en masse staining

The battle standard

The six hundred sixty-six circles.

He tore through the membrane

First his misshapen skull

Then his shoulders a thousand cuts cracked spine

Split into an abyss spanning waves of darkness

A span of waves of not-light.

He was out. Out. So were the blackbirds.



Some fucker always shouts Free Bird

Jack will slay them with a word (parenthetical).

In other tales Jack is heroic and kind

But I prefer him at his worst.




Jack swam with the Father of Leeches.

The river stank and (s)wallowed between flyblown

Mud banks gray as shit as the eyes of a lamb

In a blackbird nest.

The second time Jack survived

And so he posed his question.

The Father of Leeches said, Anticoagulant.



Jack the Nimble Jack the Quick.

Jack Sprat Formula One Champion.

Jack Who Captured Death in a Burlap Bag.

Jack and the Beanstalk.

Jack the Giant Killer.

Jack the Lady Killer Who Died in the Sack.

Jack red-eyed Jack in spring-heels at the dance.

Jack the Claims Adjustor.

Jack highball in hand after a hard day.

Jack in Tokyo to rematch the radioactive god-lizard.

Jack with a scepter his left profile boiled away by acid.

Jack Lone Survivor of Tokyo Irradiated for All Time.

Jack is gone baby gone here’s Jack



Jacks says reality is a frequency on a band

Cats and dogs perceive frequencies humans cannot.

My favorite band is Blue Oyster Cult.

When I was a kid

The pale Christian clerk who sold me a cassette

Of Mirrors said if you play this tape you’ve joined them.

Jack says Buck Dharma is an average guitarist

Who will die a week before my father does.

BD & JB were born in the same month of the same year

Granddad returned from the Second Great War and got busy.

Dad returned from a Police Action in 1969 and made me.

I say fuck you Jack

Buck Dharma is an excellent guitarist

May he live forever.



Staff & Young & Cernan warned Collins

To toe the company line there’s no alien music in space.

Aldrin & Armstrong planted a US flag as the shadow

Of the hand of god bowed their heads.

Meanwhile a millionth iteration of Jack gasps his last

His first:

An ice-encrusted antenna array tumbles seventeen

Kilometers per second while Sol shrinks to a pinhole.

All that is out there is dust and cold

A radio signal plunging like a dart into the fat endless

Curve of interstellar waste.



Space-proof batteries are failing. Black holes are opening.

A transmission from Earth trails as a whisper

Like nails on dark matter.

Fifty. Seventy. One-hundred-and-fifty years

Reversing to the origin point (beak)

The crack.

“Jack? Are you reading? Jack? Jack…?”

Means nothing when the life capsule

Dissolves into nothingness.

4 thoughts on “To My Friend

  1. Not shocked to see your poetry is splendid, too. All I can add is, “hit the road, Jack” and this:

  2. Laird says:

    Thank you.

  3. S.T says:

    You have exponentially more interesting friends than I do. Salutations to Jack.

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