[Images description: two photographs by artist SWAN MEAT. She appears, whole-body,  in the centre of both, with a blurred background. Her figure stands out with red and orange tones. On the first image, the artist is in profile and she holds in her hand, and raises slightly, a golden gun. On the second image, the artist is also in profile but looks directly to the camera].

SWAN MEAT: “A Battle Royale Whispers” mix + poems

Description: mix “A Battle Royale Whispers”, by SWAN MEAT

I can’t stay still. I pace around my room like a leopard with zoochosis, making instant coffee —watching those little pebbles float in milk & water then disappear at the behest of my spoon like coral bricolage undone by a gust of tide— humming melodies into my ancient, broken phone for later, smoking cigs out the tiny window in my bathroom where I’ve let a spider’s egg sac hang unperturbed, though I fear it. Mom, if you’re reading this, don’t worry: I take two puffs then I’m done, I’m too bored to finish even a Pall Mall, much less a poem. Songs are different: have you ever played Crash Bandicoot? One of his main attacks is this frenzied, toplike spin, shooting limbs everywhere. That’s me with tracks right now. I’m like the little Dutch boy plugging that hole in the levee with his finger, except it’s not water but a monstrous peal of MIDI I’m holding back.  That is to say, silence burns.

I’ve never been one for the endless uprooting of trauma as penance to the content gods, much less as a chisel with which I might craft my “identity” as a musician or writer or whatever; isn’t being okay at what I do enough? I will say, however, that I hate lockdown, because it reminds me of being in the hospital, which I know a lot about. You try celebrating your 10th birthday with a feeding tube holding your larynx hostage and tell me a whiff of cleaning agent doesn’t send you into a tizzy.  I guess this is why this mix and these poems are so frenzied; I find myself drawn to breakcore, chiptune, drum & bass, anything fast enough to stave back the gale of silence. A moiré pattern is a sort of wave interference, the dissonance between two pitches only slightly —it’s terrifying— displaced. An anticore blast is the rush of grit that smooths the bevel of a needle’s rough heel. My third poem, worst of all, is basically about being horny.

Blasts of amen break, of seminal fluid, of candied glass, of sinusoids:  if I must be alone right now (and I understand I must), let me adorn my pod-home (or coffin, like in 'Neuromancer') with the mad chatter of a life that’s realer than real. Real life, I’ve already forgotten.



Yes I have taken the red pill: swallow
This shuriken whorl each blade dabbed in cream cheese

The fabric of my throat’s plastic cosine
Unnerved by frantic spinning: a spider, a little

manicured hand.  The blade under each French tip
ready to strike like an X man.  A fairy preserved

in amber in a syringe. A fly inside a tungsten
bulb hissing. My brain turning potroast

underneath a faraday cage. Ground hum? I fear you.
My bitrate’s churning, shitting artefacts.

And to the million other
flutelike things on my list I say: get used to it.  I haven’t

heard my own voice in weeks. If a pill
can be a tuft of knives a vaccine can be a sound.

Let my dumb glossolalia be the unleashing of disease.


...and we are only now becoming civilized enough again that we want to hear sounds continuously. It will become easier as we move further into this period of sound. We will become more attached to sound.

—LaMonte Young

This LaMonte Young quote is weird. I’ve found the opposite has become true. I can’t do silence, particularly in “quarantine times.” I find myself always having some insipid political or cultural podcast yammering on in the matrix of my equally insipid comme il faut — unless I’m making my own music, in which case, I’m in pain — when I’m cooking spaghetti for the nth night in a row, picking mites of hair off my carpet, rolling my heap of body from bed to shower in the morning like Sisyphus’ great stone, what have you. Moments of silence are eerie and liminal, permitting the churring earthworms of anxiety to gnaw at my synapses from the inside, the worms forever stuck in them halfway like the last globs of boba in a neon green bendy straw; spit coagulating in a piccolo. What can this be but a product of ever-increasing atomisation? The extent to which I am less with others is also the extent to which I become less and less human. I do not desire constant aural stimulation because I have somehow become more civilised, rather, my primitive lizard brain bays & sputters & wheezes fundamental frequencies like tinnitus become sentient. This is what silence means, now: the Cthulan horror of being with oneself. Birds outside whistle idiotically, my stomach pops as breakfast becomes inside it a pasty gamboge. Yes, no one bothers to clap at 21:00 anymore and oh, look: the open faultline of my shadow. It sounds like zero.


Dear Robert Rich:  I hate drones,
so don’t even think about it. Dear Oppenheimer: eff u.

I’m discrete as quail yolks flailing in a wok. Fall asleep
to the sound of rain fingering a tin can? 

As if.  I can’t stop laughing.
Only after being pummelled are bevels made smooth—

A crown of bayonets leering a clump of dough
into submission. Shine your helmet, little needle,

oil your chariot: Thunderdome awaits &
at its rim this choir of pores humming minor triad,

lips pursed like a guppy, pipes of blood
in Blade Runner neon underneath, this country

maze of vessels. Lions suck at their fangs
& bear guts rumble like 808s lost in silicone

but you are heroic & quiet & longing.  All of a sudden
I am not sick. Pure hormone, pure the octave

between waist and hip, death and sleep.
Forgive me for shirking white noise, box fan & tree frog,

this tuneless miasma of wind.  I want cantata, Stravinsky,
Merzbow, techno:  With a pickaxe I find a vein.


after Severian & Thecla in Gene Wolfe’s Shadow & Claw

My heart is enlarged, it is beefsteak

& in your cell you are so tiny
a smudge of paint on a paper tiger

So I will bury the key in a roll of sweetbread: 
what is Urth if not a slab of brack

bedazzled in stars, raisins, pebbles—
Freckles on an amputated cheek
set like a diamond in gobs of mallow & ice
Sugar on wet cardboard
A pardine tumor

Were this severed hand yours I would kiss it
& make reticent the schoolboy in me

who’d sooner of all this crisp taffeta,
this vantablack, this jaw of fauna make a crime scene

Were it mine I’d dissect it
Though I’ve only rose stems for lancets
Between marrow & phalange find
this thing that makes me hurt & do hurt

& wince at three legged dogs, their asymmetry
And uproot it like stray hairs making splayed bats’ wings of eyebrows
Or of the face, a whole crucifix

It’s always this puckered torsion
Always the buildup of platelets at the axis
Always fur & bone & the winking of holes

I can’t take it.  Goddess
when you are pardoned don’t thank me:

Thank instead my inversion
A secret furloughed by a quarrel of blood

Listen to SWAN MEAT reading the poems.

SWAN MEAT is a producer, DJ, and writer from Washington, D.C. based in Cologne, Germany.  Since beginning the SWAN MEAT project in 2016, she has consistently released numerous singles and remixes, as well as four EPs: Bounty (PERMALNK), her tribute to the Metroid games series; KNIFE SPLITS ICE, a collaborative tape with Japanese producer Yoshitaka Hikawa; TAME (Bala Club), which saw the producer combining weird vocaloid lyricism with cinematic string and drum arrangements; and her latest, FLESHWORLD (Infinite Machine), in which SWAN MEAT paid tribute to fighting games of yore with 8-bit synths and meticulously arranged breaks. She has been consistently releasing music since quarantine began as part of her 'Tearz Files' project.