Lana Del Rey

Joyelle McSweeney

This flibbertigibbet can surely torch

a song long beribboned by pain.

Her tresses rivulet

the gibbet like a Cap-u-let

in her balcony’d scene

teen girls ’er taught to

recite and esteem

difficult to pronounce as a mouthful of drug

warnings folded like love notes and stapled to the sack.

But you’ve already caught your disease

Juliet, your snare drum sneaks

out from under the fog of the hem of war

and off school grounds to smoke

on the pitted, lunar face of the battlefield

out by the mall. Some of us were born there

but not in this scene.

                                      The moon revolves,

ok. Revolution scene, we’re both bleeding.

Ovulate and/or die. All this building

and breaking. The sea constructs a natural barricade

of what it’s eaten, our footfalls won’t last

but our sneakers will wash up on shore

after the nuclear meltdown, refusing to pair off.

How did this poem begin for you?

This poem follows the demented snaky military snare that rolls under and through Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” and her other slow-burning torch songs. What kind of battle are we being called to? Where is St. Lizzie of Lake Placid leading us? What her banner, her cause? It reminds me of growing up near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, all the revolutionary iconography of drums and head injuries, badly painted middle school murals of my toxic adolescence. . . . The silver ribbon in the Marlboro pack as the cellophane falls away and into the strip of grass beside the parking lot. . . . Heaven Is a Place on Earth with You. . . .

Joyelle McSweeney is the author of ten books, including Death Styles.
Originally published:
June 19, 2024


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