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Fran Lock: Hyena

Issue 14

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 Hyena! and the work of queer mourning Hyenas get a pretty bad press: in Egypt, during the reign of Ramesses XI, the year 1090 became known as the Year of the Hyenas. It was a year defined by climate disaster – drought, crop failure – starvation, and civil unrest. The appellation is both literal and political. Hyena populations felt the knock-on effects of the drought, and sought to scavenge food within the precincts of human habitation. In this way the hyena became viscerally identified with famine and disease in the ancient Egyptian imagination. ‘Hyena’ also conflates these animal harbingers with the feral behaviour of human beings, with a starving populace on the brink of revolution, devolving into chaos. Hyenas are, according to most classical sources: loathsome and savage, insatiable...

Swamp Thing II   To denote as dirty and to cognate is to muddle meaning. Once upon a time, mud was sweet heroin. Sweet swamp survival. What does it mean to drag someone through the mud. Swamp, where sometimes slavery sunk to silt. Muddled has been used to describe my identity. There are other lesser-known stories such as Dr. Samuel Mudd who treated Abraham Lincoln’s murderer, John Wilkes Booth. What he did was considered a traitorous act, and eventually, he was convicted. Swamp Creatures are soft matter historical sludge. Allegations regarded as damaging, typically concerned with corruption. Swampland is rich with worms, frogs, snails and crayfish. To mud wallow among cypress and alligators, adapt to brackish and salty waters. To be a part of the...

A film-poem sequence created by invitation for Junction Box - Glasfryn Project. Dedicated to John Goodby, cris cheek, and especially Rezia Wahid. The four films existed first, but I was conscious that few people these days want to watch almost abstract, soundless visuals. One part of me resents the intrusion of words, because strangely as a poet I am drawn to the discursive long form but when I am drawn to tap something lyrically short I produce these wordless films as my 'poems'. The descriptive titles ('Come', 'Go', 'Stay', 'Kiss') relate to the film imagery but not necessarily to the text-poem. Formerly working in film and TV, Khaled Hakim has claims to being the first homegrown British-Asian experimental poet, working with semi-improvisatory performances in the 1980s and 90s. Largely...

This is not in the slightest a new story, And the following text of it has been derived to substantial degrees from books printed and published in the year 1639 of the western Gregorian calendar.   “Be careful what you get good at” True Detective, “Nothing grows in the right direction”   The death of slithering evidence The death of ignorance The death of obeyance Death of adequate words—death of precarious kisses The arrests of death and the idea of that stranger Who fears nothing but leaving To the gate-keeping great contrivers of massacre, who, in a thunder of horsehair and duck under wheel blisters for want of sense ought much to muck no thanks...   To read the full text: The Ghost in the Lake   cris cheek is...

Author's note: In revisiting my writing from the latter half of 2017, I encountered these poems that try to articulate political frustrations and the balance one makes between "the world out there" and individual experience. They come to no conclusions, of course; the act of writing is less about making sense than increasing awareness and trying to communicate something of that struggle.     Another Threshold   I am sorry to disappoint. The cat was. Every time I say Obama, a friend says drones.   Asleep in my lap. I should have minded the date. Every time someone says President Trump, I am aghast.   How did it come down to me? The cat was not my excuse. We all read healthcare fears on Facebook.   Not really, but if it...

Introduction. My versions of Leopardi’s first 21 poems came out from Equipage in 2017 under the title via Leopardi 21. The following poems are from the second half of his poetic output. My Leopardi project is influenced by Stephen Rodefer’s wonderful Villon versions, especially in the employment of footnotes. These poems are therefore dedicated to his memory, and that of John James, ‘il migio fab bro, whose moving cadences, deft manoeuvres & expert nightcap recommendations have kept me going for years.’ Peter Hughes, Bethesda, Epiphany 2021     via Leopardi 22            talk about these northern constellations nor did I expect to come back here   & contemplate our eerie dispositions from a high window in my parents’ house back across...

Angharad did demand concentration. We’d walk and talk. She was a purist with little give. ‘She’s got Aspergers, I know it,’ she said, ‘I read about the symptoms in a book.’ She’d just got back from a visit to an artist friend that hadn’t gone well. ‘What are the symptoms then.’ ‘Difficulty in social interaction. Selective mutism. She ignored me after the first day.’ ‘Perhaps she wanted to work.’ ‘I wanted to talk about work. I wasn’t asking her shopping. Another vodka tonic?’ Angharad’s house was incongruous. Despite every plane having elements of verticality or horizontality, and all the permanent surfaces worked smooth, and despite its relatively recent construction, the house looked as if it was falling down. Or the flora that surrounded it was...

Isolated in Aber Cuawg (first half)   My mind’s requirement, to be sat atop a hill - yet that cannot move me: short is my road, desolate my circumstance.   Sharp is the gale, the cattle-track bare. As, today, the woods put on bright colours of summer, I burn with ague.   I’m not able-bodied, keep no company, don’t wander outside. For as long as it pleases, let the cuckoo sing.   The cuckoo is garrulous, sing-song with the day, profligate with melody in the meadows of Cuawg. Sooner be prodigal than miserly.   In Aber Cuawg the cuckoos are singing from flowery branches. The cuckoo is garrulous, but let him sing long.   In Aber Cuawg the cuckoos are singing From flowery branches. Woe to...

Accordion There are so many stories, the child lost count of how they came to be known. Some emerged from sweet wrappers, others from a box of fly-speckled birthday cards. One epic story came from an accordion. When the child pulled it from the case it let loose an almighty wheeze. Stories flew out, mildewed, smelling of rot. The child tried to make the accordion sing. She chided it – be solffa tonic, make a pretty noise. The buttons seized on thin cloth that tapered underneath. Hoisting the leather straps on her shoulders – angry sounds tumbled to her feet. The accordion is dark blue inlaid with mother of pearl. It is the body of a horrible sound. Worse were the sweet spores as it moved in and out. The breath of a dead man encased in a trapezium coffin. A teacher told them of a poet...

The Abyss, the Abyme and the Proscenium   Just the name RMS Lusitania has a haunting ring to it. This Cunard ocean liner was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1915 and sank within 18 minutes, 11 miles off the Irish coast, killing 1,198 people.  Actually the story is more complex than that, as there was a much debated second explosion which led to the ship sinking so fast. Intrigued by the story of the Lusitania, I was doing some research and stumbled upon a series of remarkable photographs of the sumptuous, stylish, First Class cabin interiors. The photographs were professionally taken for advertising purposes, evidently before a single passenger had set foot on board. Not one personal item or object of human necessity was visible in any of the rooms. There were no signs of touch...

Oh What A Glorious Feeling there was milk in the rain created twilight falling over happiness she learned to dance her way through it is that what we do en stages stopping here and there to study a line of idiocy perpetuated by plight a part two: he was as a small boy walking oft times alone in landscapes painted by Kurt Schwitters a grotto full of relics and a toy tossed boat see you what there? imagination apparelled blood seeping from small frogs and plastic ducks the forest turned to charcoal watching a dance sequence come to wet fruition     Evolution imagine being and not knowing of slime mold it was difficult to distinguish in monochrome at times you hope it will never happen again *** dramatic music raises the...

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