• Peter Rose




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.