September 15th, 2010



Young Varus and the girl who has his heart
walked with me at the Forum. She's some tart,
but polished, inoffensive. And our chat
was all about Bithynia and that
mostly about whether I'd made a mint
out there. And so I had to say I'm skint.
It's a poor province; I did not get on
with my commander, nor did anyone.
He's just a fuckhead, hates all of his staff.
But Varus and his woman ignored half
of what I said.' You've clearly done quite well
for all you say you haven't.We can tell.
Eight sturdy bearers, that is not so bad.'
I wanted to show off, although I'd had
No luck. I wanted to impress her, chose
to lie a bit. Looked round, and said 'Oh those.
I bought a job lot of eight men.' I lied
- I didn't have a litter I could ride.
I didn't even have a broken chair,
some slave could push. Nor anyone to wear
its struts around his neck. She caught me out
'Catullus, dear,' she said. 'I'm here without
a litter. I would be so very pleased
if you'd lend yours. It is Serapis' feast
down at the temple.'And I thought,'oh no'
I damned her cheek, but said 'you have to go
but those aren't mine, they're Cinna's. He's a friend
What's his is mine to use. But please do send
them back.' I'd told a stupid fib in which
she'd caught me, made me blush. 'You thoughtless bitch
I muttered - If I'd thought, I could have had
a lift back home. You've nabbed it first. Too bad.'


Asinius Marrucinus, your left hand
has sticky fingers. There is no excuse.
You weren't drunk. It's not funny. If you choose
to steal my table linen, you'll be banned

from all polite society. He's sad,
your brother Pollio - he'd gladly pay
for all your silly pranks to go away,
he's smart and witty, unlike you. We've had

enough of you, So kindly send it back
Or get far ruder verses by return.
It was a present from my friends. You'll learn
value's not what things cost, but how their lack

hurts. It's not cloth alone they sent from Spain,
but love with it, until we kiss again.


You shining jewel of islands, Sirmio,
and of peninsulas! Across the sea,
in other lands and lakes, there cannot be
a place that can compare at all. I'm so

glad to be safely back. I can't believe
Bithynia's behind me. You're a cure
for care and duties - I am very sure
the gods of hearth and home will soon relieve

my stress. To lie at home in my own bed
is what I've worked and dreamed and traveled for
these weary months. And there is nothing more,
a man could want. Now, tinkling in my head

I hear your wavelets lapping, laughing too.
Blessed place, blessed lake, blessed me for having you.


Give up on people - they are no damned good
Don't expect anything but spite and gall..
Any kind deed is doomed. Folk really would
prefer to punish you for them. Of all
those I've been good to, he's my harshest foe
who says that he's my friend, and loves me so.

This is an odd little poem anyway

and it came out a lot odder once I decided to play with rhyme a little bit...

Quintus, I'm sure you would despise
some thief who with a scalpel pries
the eyes from someone's head. Surprise!
You are that thief. There's things I prize
more than my life, my heart, my eyes.
And you took that. With all your lies.
You pried my eyes.
Or what I prize
more than my eyes.
What a surprise
You told the lies and are the thing that you despise.