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Listening to the Jonestown Death Tapes

By Courtney Hartnett From Issue No. 3

A voice through a microphone says hurry my children hurry

and then there’s the slow rise

of tidal sound, at first

unrecognizable, and it takes

until its first charged lull

to understand it’s screaming.

The voice is the kind that could coax a scared horse onto a trailer:

Quickly quickly quickly quickly quickly.

A child shrieks.

This world’s not our home

assure these children

of the relaxation of stepping over to the next plane

There is music playing softly, an exhalation of almost-harmony.

take our life from us,

Someone is singing.

we lay it down,

A faint discordance of sighs.

we got tired.

A shimmering of static. The tape rattles, runs out.

About Courtney Hartnett More From Issue No. 3