From Ill Meat Part I: Puer

by Annick MacAskill

Annick MacAskill lives and writes in Toronto. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in RoomThe FiddleheadLemon HoundArc, and CV2, among others. Other work has been shortlisted for The Malahat Review’s Far Horizons Award for Poetry and longlisted for the CBC’s Canada Writes Poetry Prize. She is the author of the chapbook Brotherly Love: Poems of Sappho and Charaxos (Frog Hollow Press, 2016).

 

xi.1

Hum now, phone,
the girl can’t play
the innocent forever.
Ring, scream Lesbia’s
blushed wanting, putrid
injurious kisses nectar
on my lips.

Turn your captive over;
I promise not to dive
or quake.

All of Tinder
has seen my Lesbia,
why would Catullus
blanch?

I will not lose my accomplice.

 

xv.2

Ululate. Time damns us,
flames extravagant.

Mine is a febrile iciness.

Your venom tastes like
sweet meringues,
melts tricky, tepid
along my jaw. My acid
curdles you.

What’s satiated
is lost, the rest
spoils.

Dab my brow.
Tenderclaim
your bones. Render us
eternal, myth
and admonition.

 

Author’s Note

Ill Meat is a translingual erasure that uses Catullus’s Latin poetry as a source text for creating new work in English. While not a translation or paraphrase, it is an imitation that re-tells the story of Catullus’s love for a woman he calls “Lesbia” (the name is thought to be an homage to Sappho).

Given the constraints of the Latin alphabet, I have allowed myself to make certain substitutions or additions of letters based on a system informed by some basic phonetic and typographical principles. For example, i’s in the Latin text can function as y’s in the English poems, the letter y not being part of the Latin alphabet. Latin c’s can become k’s in the English poems for the same reason. These kinds of substitutions are not indicated in the erasure, though additions are. For example, when a k is added next to an n or a c, I have highlighted this. Similarly, the letter h does appear in Latin, but not frequently, so additional h’s are designated in the erasure.

 

  1. Catullus LXI (l. 13) – LXII (l. 4).
  2. Catullus LXIV (l. 104) – LXIV (l. 173).

Annick MacAskill lives and writes in Toronto. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in RoomThe FiddleheadLemon HoundArc, and CV2, among others. Other work has been shortlisted for The Malahat Review’s Far Horizons Award for Poetry and longlisted for the CBC’s Canada Writes Poetry Prize. She is the author of the chapbook Brotherly Love: Poems of Sappho and Charaxos (Frog Hollow Press, 2016).

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