Dirtbag Catullus

(I know the Burton translation is lousy, shut up)

2

My girlfriend has a bird.  
I just – I know, I know, but it’s the cutest fucking thing, you guys – and you should see it, he’s smart, he sits on her lap like a dog,
and it bites her, like tiny unharmful bites,
and she lets him,  
and it’s working so much better  
than when I try to tell a joke 
when she’s crying
(which never works)  
This bird is the best fucking boyfriend I have ever seen. Watching them, I was Atalanta, running and then not-running, grateful for the excuse to slow down (My girlfriend has a BIRD, you guys, IT’S SO GODDAMN CUTE, and I am learning when to keep my mouth closed.)

3

My girlfriend’s bird died.
My girlfriend’s bird died, oh man,
she loved that little bird like eyes,
that girl-delighting bird
that never flew out of lap-bounds,
just perched and tilting-hopped on my girlfriend the tree.
And man, fuck this, fuck darkness,
fuck the underworld, fuck not-returning, fuck laps,
congratulations, Death, on your impressive victory over a little brown bird that made her happy,
fucking big shot, big ups to you and your dread arm for making her cry all afternoon, well done there.

5

MY GIRLFRIEND AND I ARE ALIVE
AND WE ARE IN LOVE
AND EVERYONE WHO HAS A PROBLEM WITH THAT IS *OLD*
OLD MEN WHO ARE JEALOUS AND HAVE ZERO GIRLFRIENDS
UNLIKE ME, WHO HAS A WHOLE GIRLFRIEND
AND YES DEATH IS COMING OR WHATEVER
BUT WE HAVE TIME FOR A THOUSAND THEN HUNDRED MAKEOUTS BEFORE THEN, MAYBE TEN HUNDRED, MAYBE MORE THAN ANYONE CAN COUNT AND WE WILL MAKE OUT FOREVER AND BE HAPPY AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT THEN UNSUBSCRIBE

8

[A deep shuddering inhale] My new thing is infinite resignation. I’m extremely reserved now, and just, I hold everything loosely, because anyone who has lost as much as I have (my girlfriend but also just, like,
the very concept of personal fulfillment, which is fine, because
I can accept it)
Was I once happy and dwelt among the sunlit lands? Okay, yes,
And was my girlfriend loved as no one ever loved a girlfriend, like, ever?
Also a yes there, Chief,
but sometimes people get tired of happiness, I guess,
and if she doesn’t want to dwell in the highest form of bliss 
available to mortals, then who am I to defy Fate?
my new thing is being a beacon of stoicism and endurance,
and closing myself off to all love and forms of consolation,
and people say things like, “Oh wow, is Catullus completely closed off to sweetheartism now? Who hurt him? and why? We should have appreciated him when we had the chance.”
he will not look for you or court you against your will.
But you will be sorry when you are not courted at all.
Wretch, pity on you! What life lies in store for you!
Who will come to you now? Who will think you pretty?
Whom will you love now? Who will people say you are?
Whom will you kiss? Whose lips will you bite?
But you, Catullus, be resolute and stand fast.

9

Hm? Sorry? What’s that? Breakup?
Oh, um, I guess, do you mean Lesbia?
Yeah, that ended a little while back. My friend Veranius actually just got back to town,
and so that’s what’s been on my mind lately?
We’re going to talk about Spain (he was just in Spain)
and kiss for a while, because we have that kind of
really intriguing, affectionate friendship,
where a lot of people ask, Oh, are they dating? and “Oh, I wish they were dating, they would make such a cute couple?”
And it’s like, yes, in some ways, I guess, but mostly it’s just,
I’m really lucky to have that kind of love in my life, so that’s what I’m really focused on right now, thanks!!

51

I don’t think it’s a problem that other people are allowed to talk to my ex, or that I happen to notice it when other people talk to my ex, or that sometimes I have to leave parties because other people talk to my ex. I think it’s fine, and definitely legal, for other people to have full conversations with her, if for some reason that’s a goal of theirs that they feel is necessary to achieve, or whatever. I think the problem is that I really just need a job, or to move, or to move for a job, and it’s unrelated to everything I was just talking about a minute ago, I’ve just really always wondered what it would be like to be, I don’t know, a stonemason in Cappadocia, I have actually nurtured a longstanding passion for stonemasonry and the austere landscape of Cappadocia, I just never mentioned it to you before because I play my cards really close to the vest, I often keep my thoughts to myself and people often wonder what I’m thinking, because I don’t share what I’m thinking, and I know that probably makes it hard for other people to get close to me, because I’m so closed off sometimes. What I need is a job, in Cappadocia or wherever. Even Alexander, great as he was, only died when he took that vacation in Babylon. I’m not trying to invite comparison between the two of us – that’s for you to decide – I’m just saying I think my real problem is underemployment, not my ex. Poetry doesn’t count as a job. I can say that because I’m a poet, and she isn’t.


75

A PARTIAL LIST OF THE THINGS MY EX HAS RUINED: MY MIND, MY WEIRD DICK, THE VERY CONCEPT OF DEVOTION, RESPECT, GOODNESS, BADNESS, PERSISTENCE, DEGRADATION, THE SENSE OF AN ENDING. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! BIG HAND OF APPLAUSE TO MY EX

ROUND, HAND, WHATEVER, CONGRATULATIONS TO LESBIA FOR RUINING THIS IDIOM, TOO

83

My ex is still talking about me, you’d think her new boyfriend
was paying her by the hour or the word to discuss me, the rate she’s at.
Which is fine, I honestly think it’s fine, it’s not my problem! I’m not the one who’s still mad. She’s still mad, and what’s worse, she’s in love with being mad
(almost as much as she’s still in love with me) I wish her the best, honestly, I’m sending her love (not that kind) & prayers &
holding her up in the light, wishing nothing but light & love & letting go in the coming year for her!!!! Anger is so toxic, imo,
and I just don’t want her to be weighed down by the past, because it’s not a good look on her. Oh my God, did that sound like a weight joke? Because it wasn’t, I promise, I would never, I honestly think she looks great.