when i am gone

                         & these fiber optics still ignite

as an ad for Nike
                                                  what then?

my gamma-tendrils spreading

                                over the hills like a klepto—

i wasn’t looking to be saved

                        when the maple-sprouts shoot

through a slit in the page

                                          so my eyes can hatch

in a village along the tree line’s polychrome-

i scrape myself out of
                                            the velvet-

pram in the glade-chafe

where this child-corpse deposits its mineral-

                                   before falling—

i hop a fence

& core the photoplasm from the book

                                 like the purest cut of factory-

for a thimble-breath of darkness

                                      outside the sentence
i lift the veil

so my nematode-
sprites can get a whiff of empire—

                                  when the first solar rose

repeats in the hillside’s optic-

          we wring the image from the model like
a dye

& chew on its viscera


in the strife-brane

                                                    that plush-
                     polyp quaking in the corner

you can call him rabbit-rabbit

& this dog-body
lays a gimp-

leg against our monitor to rest       which
                                    tickles like a rumor

the white-latex-
sky sucks up

                                                          my ghost
                              folding-shut behind me

i know better

but my coding says
i’m attracted to the blacklight       like you

                                  when i hear the voices

scratched-out of a village-

but continue to chew the wheat-cake-of-empire

                                       i hang my

       low with the look of a dry-wood-
                        in the hyper-strife

this humble

likes to scree in its concave
                                             where my forest-

                                             cock raises its mossy
                                             neck        its cleft-
suddenly so concerned about the world!

already searching

in the satellite-

dust      instead of here

& here in the ream-

ecology where we hurt the most

             the rack-master soaks

his feet in our vinepaste

& our sprouts huddle under
his translucent-

by spookfall

                      it’s a fern-dangle

our tartaric-

                    wailing in the finch-


hey you     yapping outside my quartz-fat

                  pushing through the membrane of the oak

shut up—

                              our orphan-bodies blink-

blinking along the pike-wood-

               under the escort of the gendarme

clenching on all sides—

waking we

                 are not the same

child extracted from the root-prism

       when together the alloyed genitals

                              the pain secretes

  an emerald curving geometric

the floodlights dissimulate
                                                in rushes

of figuration breaking-apart

                                 in our nest

the ammo-lobe-we-call-commander kisses

our cordite casings

                                          so we feel wanted

before leaving at dawn

                                   to drop our bullet-

pupae at the feet of the missile-chief

      to split the gate

                  of the seven-house-village

before loading its excretion to the returner-

—you didn’t know

                            we could get here together

sometimes me sometimes

                                              a zero-dark-
                                              twerk above the furrows of the silicone-


           where we blank the roads


                                the distance


the tile-patch twisting in the yard


the light winking-shut in the river-wood-


up above

but making the ammo-lobe very angry

                                               our drone-sound tears

through the surface of the page—

                                                                            w-w-we didn’t know

                                                        we needed each other

            but years go by—

                                                     & still we track through the empire s-s-

                                                                             the same c-conifer

                                                            the s-same

     when i can’t stop you

from seeing me this way

                                                            our glands sew

                 the silicone into a cord

you can pull

             if you need a meal

if you need

sometimes me     sometimes


                                 inside us


Note: Sections from the above excerpt were originally published at Black Warrior Review and Burning House Press.


Madison McCartha is a black poet and multimedia artist whose work appears (or is forthcoming) in Black Warrior Review, Dreginald, The Fanzine, Full-Stop, The Journal, jubilat, Yalobusha Review and elsewhere. His work has received support from Winter Tangerine, The Millay Colony for the Arts, and was shortlisted for the 2019-2021 CAAPP Creative Writing Fellowship. Madison holds an MFA from the University of Notre Dame and, in the fall, will be pursuing his PhD at the University of California–Santa Cruz.


The position of each part within this whole […]
each specific Plantation […] to understand the hidden
order […] so as to wander without becoming lost.

— Édouard Glissant

Put plainly: I needed to imagine practices of art-making that could give someone like me the subversive permission to be. Disinterested in traditional performances of black identity, Freakophone World became a series of occult recordings, hauntings, and invocations performing new black diasporic identities in an increasingly globalized and imperiled society. The speaker in this poem comes from a long tradition—of freaks, outsiders, others, and spirits calling out to the living reader from the undead, black, and unapologetically freakophonic space of the text. At times Afrofuturist, weird and intensely intimate, this is an unruly, resistant poetry whose infectious speaker utters itself as a speculative other, and whose textual body is itself a diaspora.

This poem also speaks into a larger body of writing—one that pulses at the intersection of race, technology and the occult—signaling expressions of blackness that subverts their mediating technologies. Lately, I’ve been working on an interface for the book capacious enough to occupy that body.

Because the technology I want to subvert most, here, is empire.