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Joyelle McSweeney

Joyelle McSweeney received her BA from Harvard, MPhil from Oxford University, and MFA from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. She is the author of nine books, including three poetry collections, most recently Percussion Grenade: Poems and Plays (Fence Books, 2012). She is the cofounder of Action Books and a professor of English and director of the creative writing program at the University of Notre Dame. 

By This Poet

3

A Peacock in Spring

Makes derangéd love
To the muddy hill. Shoots of green knocked sideways
On a factory floor. Next to the stopflood
Retaining wall, sprung rhythm.  Just as
A center for Islamic banking
Furls green writing like a blooming branch across the screen, visible 
Pop-up ad of the market or 
green fuse. In a wiry flash,
A living goddess with a threefoot eye
Bends o'er her spreadflat copybook, contemplating a career at maths.
I've always been good at maths,
And how they multiply, and how they multiply, and how they
Lock in a pop-fly, snag the interface, shatter the salary cap,
Thwack. Into the tanned glove, a second piece
Of hide.  It's spring, tumors and mushroom caps pop-up, the avatar
Salary man can't muster himself to grope the 
Pixilated schoolgirl. Sad subways.
Before the Senate panel, the discredited chairman holds
You gotta keep on dancing
Keep on dancing
Keep on dancing til the music stops.  Amen, says the peacock,
Shifting his attentions now to the wall. He shrugs obscenely green,
Obscenely jewel-toned, obscenely neck-like,
An obscene grandeur and an obscene decadency,
A screen, a mask, a dance,
A thousand green-groping eyes. Lapse and bless
With your largesse, you antique
commode, you gossiping 
fairground—
(And now a common bird launches itself at my window
A defunct grenade from Spring's blackmarket shouldermount
Because I do not know its name
And do not wish to watch it stagger from air to glass
I hear it re-enunciate
& grow increasingly garbled & go
On outside the 
poem that would be increasingly
inside, let me in.
Where my sleek unbidden brow breaks blood upon the panel, breaks
beads amid the streaks of let me 
in and let me in)

Simon the Good

I’m the matron-king of hell
In yoga pants and a disused bra for a laurel
& shatter the scene inside your simmering year
 
Like a ransom scene filmed through shattered transom
I smear in my glamour
I make as if
to justify the ways of God to man
That’s my ticket in
That’s why God lets me speak here
Crystostoma’d
on his couch
Even though I’m derived from Hell
Hellish Helenish Hellenic
 
I’m the hanged man
in this version
pegged up
in mine pegged jeans
by mine ancles, an inversion
mine manacles are monocoles
I spit out the key
and squinny through the keyhole
back at the unquittable world
 
In my rainment
of gummy sunglasses
and crows wings for epaulets
I delicately squawk from the edges of things
balance unsteadily on the bust of the goddess
 
squawk:
Aeschelus Euphorion Aeschelus Euphorion
 
&:
I’m going to tell you something so bad that when you hear it you’re gonna know it’s true.
 
Like all the worst stories
It comes from the heart
& it goes there too.
 
Back here in St. Joseph County
a struck duck flies crown first into the asphalt and is stuck there
with its brains for adhesive
like someone licked the pavement and sealed it
a postalette
with its cartoon feet in the air and its Jeff Koon wings
that’s roadkill for you: realer than real
and the cars mill by with their wheels in reverse
heavy as chariots
in a dealership commercial
and I am walking my dog by the river
a matron from hell
 
look on me and despise
I am like the river:
thick as beer and with a sudsy crown
there polyethylene bags drape the banks like herons
and a plastic jug rides a current with something like the determination
that creases mine own brow
as I attempt to burn my lunch off
the determination of garbage
riding for its drain
hey-nonny it’s spring
and everything wears a crown
as it rides its thick doom to its noplace
 
gently brushed
by pollen
by the wings of hymenoptera
like a helicoptera
performing its opera
all above Indiana
bearing the babes away
from their births to their berths
in the NICU in Indie-un-apple-us
Unapple us, moron God,
You’ve turned me Deophobic
the greasy tracks you leave all over the internet
the slicey DNA
in the scramblechondria
the torn jeans
panicked like space invaders
in an arcane video game
oh spittle-pink blossom
the tree don’t need nomore
shook down to slick the pavement like a payslip
you disused killer app
 
each thought strikes my brain
like the spirals in a ham
pink pink for easter
sliced by something machinic
each thought zeros in
flies hapless and demented
festooned like a lawn dart
finds its bit of eye
spills its champagne
split of pain
 
then we come to our senses
suddenly alone
in the endzone