Ada McCartney
4 min readFeb 19, 2022


+Poetics of a Speculative Archive

The full moon in leo rises between periwinkle and pink clouds framed by deep green trees on either side
Moon Quickens in Leo

Our strung out prophet chants a hymn to the sidewalk:
The future is here
It’s dirty
It’s cold
Wombs full of dust
Hearts hard with mold

The future is Benton Harbor, Michigan where beaches break over nuclear waste. Is Flint where it’s still not safe to drink from the tap. Fashion savvy armageddon is the lead anchor tied to every ankle in Gary. The future like our city claps back.

A designer apocalypse burned Detroit to the bricks, it bombed grocery stores and gutted Motown, but it left a handgun for every survivor.

Small towns got farmers growing fields of seed that use all the clean water, kill all the trees.

Got culture deserts, walmart, banned books, starbucks, greed. Got feeways, oily rivers, and amish mafia on reality TV.

The future is pregnant again, can’t afford fresh vegetables, feeds its elderly catfood, puts its sick on the street. It’s test after test, precancerous cells, surgery.

In the future we are obsessed with the iphone, over medicated and tragically obese. The future is tense, hungry, tired and cold.
We are its starving ghosts- dry skin and stainless steel.
We are hardasses with broken hearts.

We are miracle babies beating the odds and sterilization campaigns that target our mothers.

We are from Pennsylvania Dutch, Jazz and Anarchy. Polish Kasha and Romani. From plant it and hope it grows.
We’re from stories that stretch to fill growling bellies.
From fall back and play fair.

Our suitcases are full of mildew, old paintings,and pottery shards, some recipes, and a pair of too small dancing shoes.

When the future came to the midwest, our parents buckled down under the bible belt. They broke even building the beasts that beat them down, broke them in, bruised their lungs with exhaust.

They raised us on fumes, taught us to climb trees, and tread water. We were educated in aftermath: junkyard playgrounds, grey everything, blacktop football.

Our schools mirror prisons — college to wage track, or correctional (correction: pipeline) classes.

Our fathers carried the future on tired shoulders from 5a.m. to 6, 7, 8 and unlaced heavy work boots finding bent nails and plastic. They unzipped carhartts like space suits: gravity and matchsticks.

Mama played the lottery every day with $5 and a prayer, worked at least two jobs, then fed us home cooking with mouthfuls of waybackwhen, mouthfuls of getoutwhileyoucan at a kitchen table sagging under late-again bills.

The yards we used to play in are full of hungry dogs,dismantled swingsets block the crosswalk.

Now we keep all the doors locked.

There’s rust in our gums and rust in our hair (THE FUTURE)

There’s lead in our blood from lead in the air (THE FUTURE)

Facebook, dubstep, asthma, crystal meth. Drug wars, jet lag, billboards in our heads. (THE FUTURE)

We are sedated ghosts: discarded dolls watching perscription future television with landfill eyes.
We are ruptured muscle trembling under meat stitches.
Our bolts break under censored scissor tongues.
We rough rocks tumbled smooth marbles on rotten stairs.

We are from comic books, from skate parks with skinned knees and scabby elbows. We are from punk rock and party hard
with calloused hands and gravelly voices. We are from smoke
and scream. From hitchhike and fight. Hardknocks and highlife.

We’ve got spray cans full of history and valvoline,we’re tagging
all our firewalls with kerosene. We got hope, but we keep it in
pieces, bandanna wrap in the bottom of our backpacks.

We are sleepless ghosts, camping in borderlands.
Gogol Brdello and Lupe Fiasco: uprooted and outlawed.
We have Sun Ra and Frida Khalo pumping through our veins.

Renegades stretching canvas in virtual reality
organic machines
We are analog refugees staging a coup with androids

and american
apparel model revolution on tee-shirts
Get the look right
buy that counter culture online.

We are surviving.
We still carry our grandmothers’ songs in our chests,

warming them around campfires, and shaking it out
stiff dances in crowded dive bars.
There’s an echo inside of us —

scream trapped fire
fly in a jar.

We are these children.
We are these caverns.
We are these ghosts.

hymns to the alley

The future is here
it’s dirty
it’s old
Wombs full lust
Hearts beat
compost to Mold

Screencap of youtube video. Woman in black at a mic with upturned face and outwards moving hands. A man in the background also in black rocks the synthesizer. Orange-red lighting, solid backdrop.
a shot from original performance. screencap

I originally performed this poem with my brother Sid at the Extreme Future Fest in LA. (shout out to Pablo Pereyra for reminding me how good it is to see poets speak their work)

The difference between an archive and [H]history is liveliness. History is a hasbeen misremembered flabby flex. Archive, on the other hand, is live, is free form, freeing. Archives are ecstatic libraries, they’re reflective, retrospective, and most importantly speculative. I archive like I breathe, dance, dream, or read leaves — intuitively. I reserve the right to revise and accept responsibility for my share of the archive. A lot has changed in a decade and yet so much remains the same.

What will you archive today?

Imagine forth and persevere,




Ada McCartney

Poet | Cat Lover | Kalamazoo College and Naropa University Alum | Long Live the USPS