Poems and Texts

“ASSANGE and DEAD YOUTH” by Joyelle McSweeney


My mother JonBenet and me
My mother Margaret Thatcher.
My mother Henrietta Lacks.
My mother Antigone.
My mother strong correlation
Palingenesis, telomarese,
My mother twentieth cee
My mother enceinte
My mother epicene
My mother in surburbia
My mother sleeper cell
My mother human error
yellow cake or Zyklon B
My mother migrating heron
that, chopped up in the engine,
brings down the corporate jet
My mother trashed reputation
My mother Hitchcock blonde
My mother windswept highlands
My mother updo
My mother bog
My mother bared midriff, dirndl, sari,
sandal, buckskin, wristwatch, hijab,
Who survived my birth
but barely
Whose idea of groceries
was a bottle of bleach or pills
a donation to the church or the Panthers
lived in a vat of spaghetti
died in a Petri dish
My mother in Arcadia ego
My mother botulinum in hypo
wiped toilets
in gloves and smock
played bridge in
evening dress
sabotaged the trainbridge
shot up the bank vault
worked the third shift
was throttled in halter top
was choked in a stalking
was brought up on charges
Became a rogue signatory
No longer agreed to the plot
Divested of media resources
became a relentless top
and crashed the last century’s banquet
a radioactive
grain in every dish
Her name was Estrogena,
Aspartame, Nicotiana,
Thalidomida, Saccharina,
Carcinoma, Sacerdota,

Joyelle McSweeney

Joyelle McSweeney is the author of eight books in multiple genres, most recently the verse play Dead Youth, or, the Leaks, a hacked carcinogenic farce which was selected to inaugurate the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Playwrights, as well as The Necropastoral: Poetry, Media, Occults, which reads together authors as diverse as Jack Smith, Wilfred Owen, Aime Cesaire and Kim Hyesoon. With Johannes Goransson, Joyelle edits the international press Action Books and teaches at the University of Notre Dame.