Hard to believe perhaps, but Catullus
is not without magnanimity –
whatever people say. Nervy Quintius
sits up all night drafting an exquisite apology,
one demanding new feats of masochism.
Otherwise, Quintius is convinced,
Catullus will trash his latest eclogues
because of that historic faux pas of his:
the one Quintius has regretted for twenty years.
Young they both were, newly published,
with equal billing at the notorious gallery:
the voguish one will those suspect nudes.
Why, why, why, Quintius berates himself,
did he read for so long – an hour longer
than intended, someone rumoured:
leaving Catullus with less than a minute
(which he filled suavely, smilingly,
with a one-line poem). On and on it goes:
self-flagellation followed by recrimination.
Quintius’ guilt is torrential, and for once
he can’t blame anyone but himself.
What he doesn’t realise
is that there’s no need for these
orgasms of remorse. Catullus,
when he reads Quintius’ abject letter,
can’t even recall the occasion:
not the gallery, not the epic poems,
not the young man’s hubris,
not even the flagrant nudes on the wall.
Catullus had just fallen in love with Lesbia,
and he was beyond hearing, beyond insult.
(from The Catullan Rag)
- FREE: 20 Poets anthology
- 92: NO THEME VIIISUBMIT to C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow, coming soon! 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith Fiona Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith Vladimir Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith Judith Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith Keri Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with Dan Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with Pam Brown 52.0: TOIL with Carol Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with Luke Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with Bonny Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with John Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with Tracy Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with Corey Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with Michael Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with Felicity Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with Jan Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with Derek Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with Kent MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with Ann Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with Gig Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with Duncan Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with Kent MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with Libby Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with Sarah Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with Sam Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with Astrid Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with Sean Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with Alan Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with Jill Jones
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