Poetry by Madison McCartha

“summer sam” by Song Watkins Park / songwatkinspark.com
THE CRYPTODRONE SEQUENCE is a simulation glitch, a cypher, a queer assemblage diary with a cutup persona—much like Kathy Acker’s Janey Smith from Blood and Guts in High School—an anarcho-punk-bot-tremor using as its source material a technical handbook on Computer Security Basics (circa 2002), as well as some chewed-up texts from Jean Genet, Édouard Glissant, Clarice Lispector, and others who together constitute this poetic intervention. I believe this poem speaks into a larger body of art-making that pulses at the intersection of race, technology and the occult—one signaling expressions of blackness that subvert their mediating technologies.

The technology I want to subvert most, here, is empire.

Madison McCartha


from The Cryptodrone Sequence

crystalize yourself in jewels
to survive heuristic detection—
filthy as a star       under the administrator’s bailiwick

a heuristic means a rule or behavior       cryptodrone exhibits
as scum suddenly accessing a privileged domain—
as a frost on the lashes of your eyes

cross-site scripting can be a delicate exploit—
once a virus starts talking server-to-server like a peer
instead of scum       unpredictable distortions can arise

if i know the smell

born stateless
cryptodrone has no country of his own       but
i’m not going to tell you who he was

sneaking up to feed
a worm lighting a thread in multiple darks

to unlearn fabricated attacks
provoke the enmity of the state—
as a plume who withstood the wave yet wouldn’t break

so go ahead and cry       this isn’t a hustle

i offer my eyes to the wind
my face & ears a blood
the rustling in a field draws

because the president doesn’t like surprises
my iodine maps the strata of privileged domains—
the chalk lashing a grid along the gray

most wired communication systems are considered bound
but when a fever-green floods the presidential septum
cryptodrone possesses a fang-like illumination

a gold poetry ripens i promise in the equally real globe

when cryptodrone is forbidden from flying below
acicular-white       caution yellow

distinct desires i wanted       correspond—
to call them       spectrograph a higher world
in rebellion orange       illuminated red

a history of severe
in the chevelure palette

each threat plainly paroled       cross-hatch pink
under the hunter-state’s red-ward pinch

getting bit by a cypher means       for cryptodrone
being ready to die for love—
a polypropylene orange       percussing over the green

to spoof a return
the deepwood lily holds a cache
no administrator can touch

a stone-blue pulsing in the semaphore dark

if i a glimmer the circuit above returns
while the hypodermic air watches for our demise
how should i act?       wagging my finger from the dust

isn’t a spring touch longer?
defined in lamp of tranquility another?
Or is a thing of stars counted the thrilling the boundary?
inflexible rain       demarcated zone the i passed
Safe with be merely doesn’t even merit one same thing by
but simply by white       though it the presence of a hue
safe in       an off-deceptive word       long who lays with an enemy-prey who
for the spectrum of burden me wild perceforate       dog-speak
carries with it loam       what does its ever-since-spectrum say

Madison McCartha is a black, queer poet whose work appears in Black Warrior Review, Denver Quarterly, Fanzine, jubilat, Tarpaulin Sky Press, and elsewhere. Their debut book of poetry, FREAKOPHONE WORLD, is forthcoming from Inside the Castle Press in 2021. Their second book, THE CRYPTODRONE SEQUENCE, is forthcoming from Black Ocean. McCartha holds an MFA from the University of Notre Dame and is a PhD student at the University of California, Santa Cruz.