Catullus is restless tonight
prowls through the Malthouse
and shakes off his publicist.
(Jason, thoroughly petrified,
relishes the early night,
jerking off like a press release.)
Catullus knows he should be visible:
signing books, goosing editors,
snorting at the closing session:
‘Getting Published in the Roman World’.
But nothing calms him or diverts:
not that bald quean winding his rings,
furious because ‘Cat’ fails to flirt.
All he sees are the wraiths of chance,
the silhouettes of sycophants.
Catullus lingers, rolls his own.
He longs for pine air, pumice,
the brute who threw him during
his reading, made him lose his place –
the starer in the torn jeans
with the courage of his shanks.
Sour Postumia likes nothing better
than giving Catullus hideous reviews.
Lone among her ilk she says
vile things about his tender lyrics.
Tabloids give her two hundred words
to spread this bilge.
But why this vendetta?
Is the toothless old hag bitter
because Catullus beds all the pretty ones?
If Postumia can’t have them,
won’t powder her historic moustache,
why take it out on Catullus?
Shrewd of you, Postumia —
almost witty, and nicely judged.
Good of you to entertain them
with those blemished drafts.
Rest assured, last night’s
silence in the Forum
was the ultimate accolade.
They stayed, they stayed,
knowing that for some
the echo is the only song —
Postumia’s way of belonging.