The Rope

[This is the fourth poem I have posted that forms part, along with The River Biss , Ode to Thread , and Hymn to the Moon , of my ongoing free ‘translation’ of Catullus Poem 64. It fits well with this week’s Poetry Rehab prompt

Note that, although these pieces are free-standing sections in the longer poem, the titles are solely for the purposes of posting on this blog.]

The Rope


Clotho binds the threads; Lachesis pays it out;

Atropos sells it on to the handyman, builder, soldier,

cowboy, sailor, slaver, torturer, executioner

with her winning sales exec smiles and seductive ways…


& the various types of fella are roped in

and pegged out like dirty laundry

hung out to dry on a washing line:

joker, wheeler-dealer, ladies’ man, the silent type; Jack the ripper

Jack the lad, diamond geezer, Johnny lunch bucket, family man;

incorrigible bachelor, perfect gent; head-butting nutter, upper class twit;

harmless drunk, helpless nerd, boy band reject, dumb jock, seven-stone-weakling, nervous wreck

salt of the earth; wife batterer, drug addled waif; self-lover, self-loather alike,

every neighbor who mows his lawn in shirt sleeves every sunny Sunday afternoon….

Give ‘em all enough rope

& sure as eggs is eggs

Sure as night follows day

Sure as hell, in the end,

the scissors or the dump or the drying out clinic

will find them out and reel them back in again.

The Fates have a single eye between them

that you can borrow when you watch TV

through which you see their work in rosy light

and feel assured that all is right.





May Day

May is the hobbling month: one foot

in summer dance, while Winter drags.

May is the month I waited three

weeks to be born. Blossom is shed;

fruit yet to swell; a touch of frost

curses the fertile ground.


are consummated; maypoles danced

around; the old songs sung; a new

world lurks around stark & seedy

corners, at the end of the long

grim parade of lethal missiles,

tanks, gun salutes, jack-booted yobs;

hate-speech, cheers; & youngsters chucking

up the night’s binging in fancy

dress over the ancient toll bridge

into the slow flow of lily-

wreathed polluted river water.

Cups won and lost; picnics rained on.

A waft of sweat and sex and wild

onion on the crisp English air.