this is the transsensorium
there are indo-robo-women fighting cowboys on the frontier
& winning finally
the premodern is a foundation for the postmodern
wintermute, tessier-ashpool, armitage
theyve revived us via neuromancy
but i am the necromancer
when i tell my mother i need kin
she sends me ten
weve all been subjected to zombie imperialism
dying in the sprawl of night city wpg
your world feels ontological
because it is the nexus of adaptation & appropriation
old abelardlindsay|abrahamlincoln told me
that i was too loyal to my gene-line
that the point is that “we” live
i tell him there is no “i” in that “we”
— never was
theres no room for white superiority in indigeneity
we were surviving
we are surviving
ive nullified your terra myths
i am more than props & backdrops
i am terræ filius
i am terra full[ofus]
(do ndns in space become settlers too[questionmark])
now is our time
to show off our copper skin, shimmer
free-fall headdress & robomoccasins
this pink & white gridwork is my technobeadwork
our (ab)use value has increased
i am the punk in amer[in]cyber[dian]
the posthuman is innately ndn
when novelty is horrific
i tell you: this is the extraterrarium
were not mothers, were police
the prehuman becomes the precursor to (rez)urrect
the posthuman in the transhuman
so fuck you
well survive this too
like the cat ive nine times to die
like the woman i ask:
how can you live so large
& leave so little for the rest of us[questionmark]
ive outlived colonial virology
slayed zombie imperialism
us ndns sure are some bad ass biopunks
1. Transsensorium, biopunks, technobeadwork, etc. What’s your favorite sci-fi or speculative detail in this poem?
2. “Wintermute, tessier-ashpool, armitage” are very specific literary references. What (sub)genre(s) do they connect the poem with?
3. How do you read “zombie imperialism,” one of the poem’s only apocalyptic formulations that repeats exactly? An imperialism of zombies, or a zombie-like imperialism? How does the answer change the poem for you?
4. The futuristic continually intervenes on the historical in this poem (and vice-versa). What do you make of “abelardlindsay” being attached to “abrahamlincoln”? And in light of the speaker removing themself from the “we” they represent?
5. In a single word answer, what does “Full Metal” bring to the poem from the get-go?
6. Does the poem bring Indigeneity to the speculative, or the speculative to Indigeneity? How is your reading of the poem changed by the one or the other?
7. The poem smushes a lot of words together: “ive,” “technobeadwork,” maybe most notably “wearesurvivingthrivingdyingtogetitright,” etc. It also makes generative use of brackets: “amer[in]cyber[dian],” “(rez)urrect,” “[questionmark],” among others. Exploring these gestures as opportunities for emphasis, wordplay, and performance, play around with the options for each of these particularities out loud. Be really deliberate with the way you deliver them, and consider how they change the vibe of your recitation.
8. There’s something to be said for figuring out where you’ll end up in the poem first. Think about your own communities, genre interests, and relationship to the apocalypse, and compose your own personal analog to Whitehead’s final word, “wearesurvivingthrivingdyingtogetitright.” Now compose a poem toward your chosen final word.
This poem is an excerpt of a longer poem.
Joshua Whitehead, "Full Metal Oji-Cree" from full-metal indigiqueer. Copyright © 2017 by Talonbooks.
Source: full-metal indigiqueer (Talonbooks, 2017)