“Composition VIII,” oil on canvas, by Wassily Kandinsky, 1923.

by Bradley Potts

“There is a 2.43% probability of survival. How would you like to proceed, Jay?” Blue Jay, flutter and fly, away from the crows. That gloating, hateful blue engulfs my tiny window. Earth teases me, a lost lover; water abundant, oxygen abounding, my deflector of cosmic radiation taunts me with beauty, indifferent to life. Flickering lights cast unholy shadows on charred control panels. Floating trash, broken switches, blood samples, useless science, my commander’s photos, bounce off my body in a snowstorm of futility.

“Emotional distress code 4.12 detected. Would you like me to alter the atmosphere, Jay?” Blue Jay, sing your note, a sweet song. The shimmering OSP passes below my orbit. Do they wave? I calculate the logistics of acquiring their whiskey.

“Critical alarm warning codes 0.15, 0.16, 0.27, 0.64. Would you like me to silence the alarms, Jay?” Blue Jay, build your nest of hickory, to last the winter. The trajectories are overwhelming, white arcs painted against sunrise. We are still burning the world.

“Jay, I detect distress. Would you like me to alter the atmosphere? Or you can speak with me, Jay. I am programmed to engage in therapeutic conversation under the strictest terms of confidentiality.” His shadow is burnt onto a sidewalk in Chicago, with tiny black streaks above his head from wayward brown hairs.

“USSOPS, command protocol Stalin,” I say. Quiet. Blue Jay, fly to the highest branch, perch, and have the world before you. The airlock will not open.

Float, Blue Jay, above the clouds.

omega man

Bradley Potts is a forester by trade. He is from Latham, Tennessee. “Orbiting, Day 271” is his first publication.