Issue 8: Fran Lock


I am resonant, theoretical, and devoid. Hygienic and reverberant, my symmetry denounces the schematics of arousal, of affection, of a love less than friction. I am a scientist. I anticipate nothing but the interrogative torque of shiny, silver tonnage; of my sluicing bulk ovulating silence and mass through miles of fallopian chromia.

I will persist. I have men to attend to all the Vatican-dramas of my body; their obsessional surveillance, like lovers round a sick bed, like watchers at a wake. But I am not dead. I accumulate votive tokens with a Van de Graaff’s greed, and plied with current I become more or less musical- for a time.

On occasions it is cold and I am busy, chaotic as a kitchen; my afflicted scintillator dislocates, scattering the buckshot of ionised vertebrae; my fibre-optic corals catch in pubic convulsion, a spirochete swirl through my cool nitrous plasma.

Other times my limbs are stacked and bunched, ossuary fodder. I stand open, gross and lethal as a state pen’s gasping chamber, as a bank vault, as Dresden or Kosovo. These days are worst: mulling the nullity of exposure, probing my own sterility with a furry tongue, sick of that reaming, posthumous wombing, that cystic chill- a snow the grows, rather than falls.

I record my sensations with exactitude. I make the appropriate noises. I stroke the smooth. Lateral geography of my ceiling: a non-stick occipital curvature, impossible for angels to cling to.

The Persistence of Memory


I observe

a white spire of flowers

and crush the blossoms with my boot.


I saw you moving,

a long black imperfection

in the crisp collateral

of winter light.


She’s holding it up,

poised to commit an act of music.

She is sighting her love like a cupid.

She’s only just passed her first period.

Guns don’t sound like cars backfiring.

In the burntout upstairs rooms we undress.

Leave our clothes in two neat piles,

like black stones marking rural graves.


And her eight-year-

old English was bloodless.

The dead men were long monsters

with caved-in faces.

The women wore their flowers

like sympathetic wounds.


I’m not afraid.

Nana tells how the dark was deep and rustlers went abroad like restless spirits while honest men toiled at the sad husbandry of sleep.



Ottoman tulips, gory black: collected scraps from a correspondence. Unsent. She has strange premonitions and waxes mystical. He has visions of her as he thinks on the past.

May 7th, 2005 On The Jordaan, Amsterdam.


There is a stillness at my centre,

like a haiku.

I drink dark black priest-piss coffee,

take a fluency of smoke inside myself

until my eyes water...

It is a crisp, expensive daylight

that crackles like butchers' paper.

Nobody does anything.

City squanders itself-

a pestilence of flowers...


May, 2005 Flatrock, Northern Ireland.


We gone up Grange and wrecked on rec behind Assumption saw you weeding in the deep trees. Yous were cross-legged, and wise as a history syllabus, sucking the air over your teeth. Someone scattered stars above the prison to gather an intelligence of grief and boredom. Rat-Face said you'd gone to ghost like wild tomatoes gone to seed.

Don't blame you for leaving. Childhood was the habit of hiding, crawling under Daddy's shadow: bugs under a rock. Don't blame you. But I crave you like some pregnant woman wanting chocolate, coal and salt. The naked strange of you. Little Drummer Girl, Little Red Fox. The knotted monotony of copper-coloured hair, broken comb caught like a wrecked ship. You laugh. You are laughing. Your mother despairs.

Yous tell me one time how a flower is a form of flightless bird. We're cooking potatoes in the open fire. You're too close, flames are making your bangles hot. Soon you'll have a smart on your outreached wrist: Flower's a form of flightless bird... I'm wondering where you get this stuff.

Maybe I believe you now. Them cypresses black as vultures. That doomed insurgency of yellow broom wrapped around the arches is canary. Under an expectation of fire, the lot. And unable to leave.

I'm looking out over the rec, inhaling the absence of journey, the long green that leads nowhere, the empty space that stands me still. I feel so old. You're in my head, walking the empty canal to Kilbeggan, or weeding in the deep trees, eating seeds with slender fingers.


May 9th, 2005 On The Jordaan, Amsterdam.

Pig Thief, wearing red braces,

a second Sebastian, arrowed.

Pulls off his fingers like petals:

Loves me, loves me, love me...


May, 2005                                                          Flatrock, Northern Ireland.


I walk the Main Parade in the white hot extremity of afternoon. I close my fist around my feelings. Choke. Like a canary in a coal mine. I smell petrol and I believe in vengeance. My brain's buzzing like when electric things get overheated. Caravans are rocking on their arches like great steel mangers, hot sun slanting off of them. Dogs're dry-humping each other. You're six, Biddy, wearing white gloves, dreaming of fists full of fivers. First summer in the north, learning the language. Fast city. Feast city. Fist city. Beast city. Harlot and Wolf, somebody says. City of The Harlot and The Wolf.


May 10th, 2005                                                    On The Jordaan, Amsterdam.

The suburbs improvise an afternoon;

startled by Turks' Heads,

their colour's bulk:

Ottoman tulips, gory black.

Deep thrombotic knots of scent

and haemorrhagic claret. The stab

of midnight burgundy. A heroism.

I am an Old Wife.

The flowers tell me what to fear.

Pig Thief says hokum. He doesn't know

how not to live forever.

I dream his head. It fits

the deforming mania of tulips.

Baroque by blunt force trauma,

concave as a Hapsburg. Smashed in.

The Spanish were cruel.

The colours don't mean what they've always meant.

I thread this recurring concussing of orange blossoms.

It's the tar that feathers me. I am flying to him on an expletive of green night wings.

Fran Lock’s collection of poems and drawings, Flatrock was launched in May last year by Little Episodes through Little, Brown Book Group. Her work has previously appeared in The Stinging Fly, Poetry London, and is due to be anthologized in Lung Jazz as part of Oxfam’s ‘Young British Poets’ series. Fran completed her Masters in creative writing at Kingston University last September, and has just finished her second collection, The Mystic and The Pig Thief of which ‘Ottoman tulips, gory black’ is an extract. She lives and works in London.

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