Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2016  Vol. 15 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Extinction Event: The Book of Revelation, as Interpreted by Link Wray
—“apocalypse”: from the Greek, “to unseal”

The Wormwood Star has ascended bloody, not above John’s rocky Patmos,
but over rural Maryland, over
a converted chicken shack, now a kind of recording studio. It is 1971
& the Beast who Spake
Like a Many-Scaled Dragon is neither Nero, nor Claudius, nor Vespasian,
but likely Richard Nixon, his bile

leaching out onto reel upon reel of black acetate. Changed yet unchanged
is the narrative, unvarying
the prophecy, here to be uttered by the hallowed one-lunged caterwaul
of Saint Link Wray,
over an amp hewn lovingly from junk shop parts & wreathed in his signature
bent notes & feedback.

Link’s seen fire, fire & brimstone, fire & brimstone fallin’ down upon my head.
Fire, Fire, blistering fire. The sanguine
Hunter’s Moon has risen, dumbfoundingly immense. Record button crimson as well,
meters like a mad array
of Geiger counters. His brother offers percussion—gravel shaking
the sides of an aluminum bucket.

The dirt floor dust is rising as he wails fire as well, not precisely in harmony.
Link sweats beneath an embroidered
headband, to honor His Shawnee blood. Changed yet unchanged
is the narrative. Last week,
at the entrance to the multiplex, a pimpled Jehovah’s Witness foisted
his Watch Tower into Jake’s now-almost

man-sized hands. “The End of the False Gods is Neigh.” A cartoon Satan,
sprouting regulation horns & tail,
clutching a globe within two claw-like mitts. We were told, of course,
to have a blesséd day.
Coming home from three endless hours of dystopian shoot ’em up,
of Jennifer Lawrence bringing down

a phalanx of attack jets with a single dexterous arrow, Jake asked how
the world would really end.
If it does, it won’t be soon, I lied. & today, at my desk, Saint Link
berates my answer.
That Coca-Cola Sign, it’s a’ blindin’ me. Feedback, feedback, the signs
do abound. In Paris,

a severed blown-off thumb & bloodied scraps of hijab cloth allow for
the suicide bomber’s positive ID.
The grievous subjectivity of prophecy: John the Revelator & his smoke & mirrors,
“brother & companion in tribulation.”
Where then are the sacred texts? I open The Lost Tribes of Tierra del Fuego,
to witness the known world of the Selk’nam

vanish to a cache of poses struck before the camera of Martin Gusinde.
It is 1923. His mission: bestow on them
the Good News of Jesus the Christ. The countdown to oblivion is almost
complete. They are performing
the Hain ceremony, lest their boys enter manhood vulnerable to beasts of prey,
to hungry ghosts & the cunning

malevolent shaman who inhabits the moon. Yet the Selk’nam practice
a sly psychology. The boys
must dress as all the vile spirits of the ancient lore. The purpose: to render
such figures comic, powerless, forlorn.
Here stands the demon Xalpen’s child, daubed entirely in red ochre,
then spattered with goose down,

as though tarred & feathered, a hazmat suit gone feral. & here looms Ulen,
the Trickster, body swathed in loblolly
& white horizontal stripes, prepared from the bones of the dead. Conjure
a French sailor’s shirt, the wearer drunken,
hatted with a lampshade. & the trio of Shoort spirits, naked but for suits of mud,
then spangled with a firmament

of bone-meal stars. I turn the pages & Saint Link carries on. He has found himself
in the pines, in the pines in the pines
where the sun never shines. The crackle & spit of his Telecaster is a breadcrumb trail,
leading him finally home. O let the unsealing
be finished. O let me shut the book upon this all. The apocalypse is always personal,
which is one definition of art.

The apocalypse is never personal, which is another truth entirely.  

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