transl. Alex MacKeith

Only now comes off
The fur glove
                             Slipped over
Fingers that thicken warmth
From the cold.
                             Now there's
That anger that should have
A meteorological term
                             A reel*
Fallen silent in
Ruffled clouds off the Reef.

Couples we gave names to
Come apart [Your Name Here];
See the
Borders they took down
Go up again
                             But recognise
That it’s not like it was at uni.
Yonder lies
NiceHere. Quiet, Green,
Rich. I see the two of you
Agreeing with that ending.

You've heard of Asia
It's well known.
Take off   
                             Any city.
Newly spineless brains
Shake the jars
That keep them
                    They want wandering.

Happy now? Feet
Fretted with years
Of practice, strong
And ugly and perfect.
Oh my ice-cream companion,
Screw me in a shower
Of goodbyes, under
A halo of farewells!
                              Good luck with the band.
So long, coming
At the same time:
I've got a home to get
Out of.

In divers tongues
And stillstrange dialects
The streets take it
From the top.

*A reel is a rage that splits the night
In half.

Alex MacKeith is a writer from London. His first work for theatre, School Play, ran at the Southwark Playhouse in 2017 and was published by Oberon Books. His debut feature screenplay, The Lesson, premiered at the Tribeca Festival in June 2023 before an international release. His prose has been published in HotShoe Magazine, and as a stand-up comedian he won the UK's 2020 Musical Comedy Awards, has been a semi-finalist in the BBC New Comedy Awards, and took a sell-out solo show, Thanks for Listening, to the Edinburgh Festival in 2022. He has taught Classics in London and has an MPhil in Classical Literature from Cambridge University.



Iam ver egelidos refert tepores,
iam caeli furor aequinoctialis
iucundis Zephyri silescit auris.
linquantur Phrygii, Catulle, campi
Nicaeaeque ager uber aestuosae:
ad claras Asiae volemus urbes.
iam mens praetrepidans avet vagari,
iam laeti studio pedes vigescunt.
o dulces comitum valete coetus,
longe quos simul a domo profectos
diversae variae viae reportant.

Catullus, in full Gaius Valerius Catullus, born c. 84 BCE—died c. 54 BCE was a Roman poet whose expressions of love and hatred are considered some of the finest lyric poetry of ancient Rome. In twenty-five of his poems he speaks of his love for a woman he calls Lesbia, whose identity is uncertain. Other poems by Catullus are outbursts of contempt for Julius Caesar and others.

Read Alex MacKeith on translating Catullus.

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