Hilary Otto is an English poet based in Barcelona, where she reads regularly in both Spanish and English. Her work has featured in Ink, Sweat & Tears, Popshot, Black Bough Poetry, The Blue Nib and elsewhere. Hilary was longlisted for the Live Canon 2021 International Poetry Prize, and her first pamphlet, Zoetrope, will be published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press in 2022.
A dream of flying
At times the locust prefers to be alone.
Until one day when it’s too hot, food is short
and there are too many saw-clamp jaws scissoring shut.
When those spiny hind legs rub together
it all revs up. A sex switch flicks.
They’re chock full of guaiacol, buzzing
like a floor of clubbers, bingeing on lush leaves, fat grain.
They get high on grazing, flush wheat-gold, and rise.
In their striped masks, they terrorise the locals
who cannot swat them in such numbers, can’t control
the swirl and swarm. So many wings whirring in the corn,
so many antennae waving in the furrows, weighing down
the stalks until they split. Like remote-controlled drones
they fly as one murky swathe, moving on the breeze
in careless decimation.
They gorge before the spray can settle, then flee
long skies away, their wreckage strewn
in hard and yellowing husks. Far from here,
the upsurge will finally recede
just as hormones do.
Somewhere, among the stumps of a ravaged field
a locust wakes alone, its head buzzing.
It has no scent memory of this place,
or its arrival here. All it remembers is a dream
of flying across deep water, its mind heavy with gold.
What the data about
migration told me
We are incoming packets
discrete, carrying our own
context. Our aim is to pass through
without being stored in a session.
We choose the optimal path
for delivery, clustering
at the interface between nodes.
When we encounter a closed path
we redistribute, or use a broker
for dispatch and settlement.
The broker makes decisions
based upon current demand.
If the load is well-balanced
we are outgoing, our movement
is invisible to the receiver
until we reach choke point
we have not yet reached settlement
we are asynchronous threads
we are stateless, but we persist
Scientists recently examining a victim of Vesuvius
found that the extreme heat had turned his brain to glass.
This is no ordinary stain.
Here lies a cluster
of black stars, a spilling of ideas;
the spectacle of dreams on fire.
Inside this many-faceted mirror
there is a man, exploding
from his own head
in a shower of thoughts.
Vitrified, he shines,
his secrets burned dark in the pit
of a flame. This is birth itself
smothered in sharp death.
One catastrophic jewel spreads
its brittle offering to Vulcan.
Shards of energy cooked
in the kiln of a skull
are pressed cold across
our consciousness in a bribe.
This is what you could be, Death whispers.
Look how beautiful you are!