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12 Dec 2023



New Moon


Dec 27th

The Maenad’s Child

Nov 27th

After Euripides’

The Bacchae

                                   A SON

                        boys like him are sent raving from homes 

                        the speed of wind in each aching limb

                        never named in prayer excluded from libation

                        upstart gods creeping off to lonely places

                        searching for the pale gleam of dancing 

                        their bodies are delivered by lightning 

                        into ruins smouldering with the still living 

                        wet with the sparkle of sweet drink 

                        they give themselves to lecherous men

                        who strip flesh faster than you could wink 

                        then send them streaming bare limbed 

                        like a flight of spears turned loose 

                        and this is how boys like him are made

                        to believe they are filthy with a pollution 

                        of their own making 

                                    HIS MOTHER

                        once free from the curb of reason 

                        was stung with a maddening trance 

                        her anger her too potent royalty 

                        threw all into wild confusion 

                        foaming at the mouth her rolling eyes 

                        Mother he cried touching her cheek

                        she grasped his left arm between wrist

                        and elbow set her foot against his ribs 

                        and tore his arm off by the shoulder

                        spilling the blood she bore and clawed

                        clean the limbs that grew in her womb 

                        his body now lies scattered 

                        inside the walls of their home 

                        that delicate crest of new grown hair 


Behind the poem...

Of all the Greek Tragedies, Euripides’ The Bacchae is perhaps the most haunting – due, in part, to its overt queerness: Dionysis’ feminine beauty; the Maenad’s frenzied revelry; a foolish king dragging up to spy on his mother. It resists heteronormativity, violently. In this diptych, I use Euripides' language (trans. Philip Vellacot) and the characters of Pentheus and his mother Agave, to create an allegory of my own experiences of queerness and of coming out. In so doing, I reframe the play’s main theme: the condemnation of intolerance.

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