Crocuta crocuta. Excerpt from Cartoon Molecules Collected Poems An Audio Textual Poem by Robin Ouzman Hislop

The spotted hyena      aka the laughing hyena         both male and female genitals are strikingly similar

Natural History Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79)       ab uno animali sepulchra erui inquisitione corporum

–     it was more jackals that were prone to digging bodies out of shallow graves and eating them    Robert Graves     White Goddess  –   The Jackals, sacred to Anubis, Guardian of the Dead, because they fed on corpse like flesh and had mysterious nocturnal habits.

the hyena is of feline descent

hyenas were hermaphrodites bearing both male and female organs         Aristotle declared in the Historia animalium    “this is untrue.”

medieval bestiaries drew a moral lesson from the depravity of beasts excluded from Noah’s ark     in 1614 God had only saved the purely bred          hyenas were reconstituted after the flood through the unnatural union of a dog and cat

female hyenas virtually indistinguishable from males      their clitoris enlarged and extended to form an organ of the same size shape and position as the male penis can also be erected

high foetal androgen levels responsible for male sexual facies in adult female spotted hyenas

an unfair stereotype of hyenas in reality fascinating intelligent even beautiful creatures

Disney animators sketches for The Lion King the trio of hyenas in the movie reinforce the common stereotype of hyenas as cowardly skulking lowlifes

Ernest Hemingway, – Fisi, the Hyena, hermaphroditic self-eating devourer of the dead, trailer of calving cows, ham-stringer, potential biter-off of your face at night while you slept, sad yowler, camp-follower, stinking, foul, with jaws that crack the bones the lion leaves, belly dragging, loping away on the brown plain –

“Hyenas” movie      an urban legend account of human encounters and attacks by a sub-culture of predatory cryptohuman hyenas      shape-shifting human-like creatures prowl the rural back roads and forests of North America           thought to exist by cryptozoologists

folklore and sightings persist even as mainstream science denies their existence

Rudyard Kipling:   The wise Hyenas come out at eve to take account of our dead,… they know the dead are safer meat than the weakest thing alive… and tug the corpse to light, the pitiful face is shown again, an instant ere they close in.

UK Teaching Resources TES     Edwin Morgan enters the mind of the hyena      English National 5 Poetry he describes its patient menacing personality      Morgan adopts the persona of a hyena    I sing and am the slave of darkness, my place is to pick you clean and leave your bones to the wind.

a hunters  poem from Lesotho description shifts to the first person singular to give the hyena’s own words          I growl being a poor body, I am small, I am hunched up like the elephant…

hyena of the Mmankala of Kone-land     a group whose symbol is the hyena     when it says ngou!   it devours even man

a Yoruba hunting poem      the hyena is regarded as the ultimate scavenger there being nothing it won’t eat      oral poetry from Africa    Hyena   who is there when the mourner buries the corpse eats fat and bone, scabbard and hide

spotted hyena strongest jaws in proportion to body size across the entire mammal kingdom cunning hunting tactics    nocturnal nature     nefarious reputations      frontal cortex of their brains thought to regulate social intelligence

the largest of the other three species brown striped and aardwolf     spotted hyenas are among Africa’s most vocal animals

Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times ; at his publications include

All the Babble of the Souk Cartoon MoleculesNext Arrivals, Collected Poems, and the recently published Moon Selected Audio Textual Poems, as well as translation of Guadalupe Grande´s La llave de niebla, as Key of Mist and the recently published Tesserae , a translation of Carmen Crespo´s Teselas.

You may visit Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)