Dealing the Deck of War

by Jennifer Crow

War touches the mysteries, reorders
the deck of living and dead
as it shuffles and deals out
the end of futures. Soldier sits in a tent,
hat pushed back over the remnants
of hair, gun settled
against his knee as he casts
Everything ends in spades.
Or maybe clubs. Black as graves,
anyway, black as night
before tracers etch the darkness
and flames blossom.
He bundles the deck into his pocket
and leaves the tent.
Desert air tastes like fate,
heat seared into the rocks,
cold burning under the stars.

He sees they haven’t found a way to erase
the moon—it hangs just out of reach
and picks out metal on the desert floor.
Soldier stills, counting the secrets
hidden, wishing the powers that be
could pull down the moon, the stars,
the world. Heap it all up, he thinks,
heap it in piles and burn it
until the desert smokes with all the dreams
he doesn’t have.
He takes the cards from his pocket
and flips them one by one
into the pool of moonlight.
The last one turns up spades

Aside from poems published in past issues of Jabberwocky, Jennifer Crow has also had work appear in Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, and Mythic Delirium, among other venues.

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