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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