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You Don't Know Jack

by Kari Mullen-McLaughlin

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Jack sprat, Jack-be-nimble

Can you balance on a thimble?

If you shared a pound of flesh

Would you then begin afresh?

Think you spry or think you thin

It will not matter, you won’t win.


Jack-in the box is poised to bounce

The eager jester aims to pounce

Jump back and spin, pick up speed

But Ball & Jacks will pay no heed

Scattered at the head of stairs

These knucklebones will find you there.


            Oh you may think Jack a regular schmoe

            A nice old man like your Uncle Joe

            I don’t want us to get off track

            The truth is plain,                

                        You don’t know JACK.


Spring-heeled Jack, that bat-winged imp

With claws of sharpened metal- upon you crimp

Eyes aflame yet cold as death

It takes away your very breath

And as you squirm he’ll tumble and trip

because of your bumble, down you slip.


Stingy Jack fooled the devil for a drink

now he wanders night black-as-ink

hollow turnip in his rotting claw

only one conclusion will you draw

flickering with will-o-the wisp

this Jack-O’Lantern seeks a human crisp.


            What’s that you say? I’ve got it down?

            Jack’s just like a friendly clown...

            I’m going to try another tack

            See, truth be told, 

                        You don’t know JACK.


 On a night dark and rainy you pull onto the shoulder

The wind blows and you think: “could it get any colder?”

The tire is flat and you head to the back

Who are you looking for but old trusty Jack?

Placed in position now he won’t crank 

He creaks with laughter at his evil prank.


Jack-of–all-trades has a broad resume

Once he begins - you dearly will pay

tinkering and rigging is his bit of fun

Though lacking in skills, he is still master of one

A quick fix now and he seems such a shoe-in

But away he scampers and leaves rack ‘n ruin.


            He hides his identity as a Jack-tar or John Doe

            What can I say- you know how this will go...

            I hope someone out there is keeping track

            The jury is in: 

                        You don’t know JACK.


He is always there, sharing a laugh

A knave in the deck, a ship’s flag on a staff

He sits in a corner eating some pie

Sucking his thumb and wishing you’d die

Yet he climbs beanstalks to challenge a giant

Can you imagine a man much more pliant?


He morphs into Jack-fruit, Jack-pine, and Jack-fish

Then frosts up your windowpane with one icy swish

Jack-in-the-Pulpit likes to eat gnats and induces sterility

How is that for a dose of hostility?

It doesn’t really matter how I unpack it.

It’s getting cold, you should put on a Jack-et


You may think him inferior or small

But that just wouldn’t be true at all!

As a Jack-pit or Jack-plug, Jack-shaft, or Jack-engine

He may be not worth even a mention

Jill would say otherwise though he cracked his head open

And a Jackass he isn’t, she can’t help from hopin’.


            All work and no play makes him quite dull

            But he doesn’t mind, he’ll still axe your skull

            The tale has unfolded and there’s no going back

            The fact still remains,

                        You don’t know JACK.

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