Sunday, June 24, 2012

Catullus at Work

During lulls Myra Jacobson left where she lived with DG and went with Paula
somewhere they could smoke while drinking. Myra said she’d be happy as hell
when dope was legal, not that she wanted to use, but Doug would do better
if he didn’t have to resist temptations just to stay out of jail or, worse, prison.
For dinner they usually walked to Chinatown to eat egg rolls and chow mein
behind a curtain and make cracks about how such privacy could be employed
by enterprising young whores who needed a place they could rent with food.
That reminded Myra of the love for Clodia that Catullus embodied in poems,
this well-born Roman lady who couldn’t stay true to him and hired herself out.
Besides, she was married to a jerk who used her as his trophy wife. She might
as well whore, even give it away for free, she liked her poet calling her Lesbia,
as though Sappho were left so alone on Lesbos she had to lie with randy men.
Paula still preferred Homer but she could see how Odysseus would be incensed
after twenty years of war, only to have to kill Penelope’s suitors to have privacy.

Bobby began listening to Paula tell him what Myra was into, and that way found
his way to Catullus. Yet the only thing that impressed him was the poet’s refusal:
He refused to bow down to the powers that were and openly satirized their follies.
He wrote what he wanted, what offended his pride and roused his cock with heat.
Bobby decided to try to write like Catullus; he was like some ancient blues poet.
He complained about the vicissitudes of his day. His day seemed to last forever.
Myra told Paula there was more critique in Catullus than in any satirist back then,
even Petronius, whose Satyricon got lost; only the gods knew what was never found.
And Juvenal did nothing but strike dread into those who insisted he be laughed off
like Lesbia sucking off the brainy boys and curs alike haunting the alleys of Rome.
Myra confessed, I don’t read Latin, but I fucked more boys in Seattle than Lesbia,
and I lived carelessly on, aloof, lost among the memory banks like dead languages.
Paula was born on Spokane’s respectable South Hill. But she fell in love with meth
and got knocked up by her dealer, trading him pussy for a hit when she was broke.

When Doug Harper said he’d like a night off now and then, Sanchez blew his cork.
First Bobby, now DG, what was he going to do for a horn? Well, beso mi cula . . .
and Paula told Bobby and Bobby went to Sanchez to say he’d return, for a raise.
Kiss my ass, Sanchez replied, I can hardly skim enough now to keep the tax fucks
satisfied every three months. Bobby insisted. Sanchez refused. Bobby walked off
and Dave interceded, telling Sanchez it would help to have Bobby back, to give
Rose time off, much less fill in for Doug. Clark walked his bass: that said it all . . .
Yet not quite all, as it happened. Paula went to Sanchez, asked him to reconsider.
She could stand in for Rose, he knew her voice, but he had to hire Bobby to play.
He was stunned to be confronted, faced down by one so beautiful and very young.
Bobby and Paula came together or not at all. Sanchez demurred and agreed.
DG celebrated the first night they showed, Myra was there to bail him out.
Clark took it upon himself to look after Doug allowing Myra to go to work.
One night Bobby asked Paula, Marry me? She said, Yes. They celebrated in bed.

The clarions sound. The emperor’s divan sways, I can see the fuckers from here
rounding one another’s hole. Who could help but hate the hypocrites? They dash
hope into dust. The rounders divvy up the after hours. When I see her Clodia says,
Go down on me and I’ll give you all the money I made today in the marketplace.

He’d pared it down to a manageable length by noon: He rolled a joint. She was
ready. They smoked and split. Their friends staggered along to sign as witnesses.
The girls knew their men preferred booze to marijuana, and proceeded accordingly,
thus keeping their men not only out of jail, but . . . Bobby had to stop. It was time.

(8, 24 June 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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