October 1st, 2010



His run a dance of curves, body and tail
almost form circles. He darts, looks around,
runs forward to some shiny thing he's found,
bats it aside bored instantly. We fail

to guess where he goes next, straight up a tree
a single run, or underneath a bush,
and are not sure, when in a sudden rush,
he or another saunters trustingly

right past our feet, if this is the same one.
There are so many of them here at play
on what may be the autumn's last fine day.
They're working hard and what may look like fun

is finding, hiding food, or snatching at
summer's last insects to be stored as fat.


Cornificius, I'm so very sad.
Oh god, I'm sad, and it is getting worse
each hour, each day. And you are really bad
at kissing it all better. The reverse

is true. I'm pissed that you can't soothe
my pain with comfort. I am sadder than
Simonides, the poet of doleful truth,
who tried and failed to find an honest man.


Poor little Ravidus, just what's possessed
you to dive headlong in my verses' way?
Perhaps some spiteful god chose to suggest
that you should come here and start a melee

or maybe you want fame. That's why you shove
Your nose in here. My verse is hard enough
to punish those who trespass on my love
with years and years of angry bitter stuff.


Much of the time they are a distant bass,
an undernote you almost do not hear
when walking round the park. It becomes clear
that rooks hunt here, regard it as their place,

when you see one perched up on a benchend
and she looks down at pigeons, as they peck
dirt, dung, discarded food. Her stiffened neck
announces scorn. In rainstorms, with a friend

or two, she's there stalking around the grass
while pigeons roost and cower. Her head spikes
into the soil for worms and bugs. She likes
dead pigeons, too, killed by the cars that pass

At dusk she and her sisters will all rise
and stare night down with those black hunting eyes


That shagged out tart Amaena, what a nerve!
Has dunned me for a grand. I don't deserve
this shit, from bankrupt Formianus' screw,
Her friends know she's not well, her doctors too.

She has a nose so twisted it's obscene
You are her family; please intervene.
She flinches when she sees a looking glass.
I'd never pay to fuck her scraggy arse.


Only my friends think that my villa's chic.
Suburbs have borders and it straddles one
where posh meets not quite classy. I have fun
there anyway; and loved the place last week

when I'd an awful cough, a stomach flu
I'd been out dining and perhaps the food
or wine upset me. Or perhaps it could
have been - since the wrong book can poison you -

that I read Sestianus' speech. It's rough
against his enemies. My chest gets tight.
I choke and cough and puke half of the night
when I go there, and have to read his stuff.

I'd rather get my health back here at home
than be made ill by prose and wine in Rome.