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
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
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)
“Jack? Are you reading? Jack? Jack…?”
Means nothing when the life capsule
Dissolves into nothingness.