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  • From "Sparrow," from The Poems Of Gaius Valerius Catullus
  • Brandon Brown (bio)


Every book has a beginning, and this is this book's beginning. It starts with a question and then it answers the question. The question is to whom should I dedicate my new little fun book nugget? That's kind of a disclaimer, saying that the book is lepidum, or "fun." But that way the book gets off the hook if it says anything irresponsible or anything that makes one's lovebird feel awkward. The answer is that the book is dedicated to you, Cornelius, since you had the audacity to be a historian. And to write three books and belabor them! Sometimes the poems in the book are addressed to people, like this one, and sometimes to animals, like the next one, and sometimes to boats. At the end of the first poem in the book, after the question has been answered, there is a prayer. The prayer is about amor fati and virgins. It gets heard.


Sparrow—mmm, sparrow meat. Delicious. Trashed, pizza-eating bullfrog chows sparrow. Our fingers meet in all that mess, we are lovebirds. Lovebirds for at least a cycle. Perched in trees. My desire at nite is to cum, and to incite your appetite. Sparrow. The word Catullus uses is Passer—which was probably the name of his book. Hi, this is Catullus, I'll be reading from my new book, "Sparrow." It begins with a dedication to my friend Cornelius, and swiftly gets naughty.


Really naughty. Lugs a bunch of Venus-stuff from under rugs and right into meter. Sparrow—mmm, sparrow meat. Delicious. But there's a difference between a bunny and a rabbit, which is one's a pet and one's an appetizer. My lovebird loves this sparrow more than "her" own eyes. It's wild to say that someone loves anything more than one's own eyes. Though the idea is that one does love one's own eyes? Do you love your eyes? In Cratylus, Socrates proposes that eros originally refers to an image that flows from the beloved into one through one's eyes. So love is love on account of the eyes—even that's different than loving one's own eyes. But all that said, eyes are pretty terrific! On the contrary, malicious facts are fucked to face, even for lovebirds. Little sparrow, dead and on the dinner plate. Little turgid salts rushing out of my lovebird's rubies.


Revive, my lovebird. I've got an aim to muss. Sure, the rumors will sound severe, but right now sock it to me with your duende. We'll fiercely cum a million times. Then we'll…Catullus asserts that he and the lovebird will kiss many thousands of times and then he shall conturbabimus them. Conturbabimus literally means something like "to throw into a mob." Some scholars interpret this as referring to an image in which Catullus counts his kisses on an abacus, which can then be violently thrown into disarray. I suggest that conturbabimus is a metaphor for confounding the coinage. The economic standard of exchange in disarray, the society "loses count."


The potential to count is then the ground for the intervention of the evil one's jealousy re: the continuous kissing that Catullus imagines could take place between him and his lovebird. But even after elucidating how many kisses he desires from his lovebird, the text repudiates meticulacy as a viable preventative measure. It throws a tantrum re: quantity, sand, ontology, kisses. In the seventh poem in the corpus of Catullus, the motif is once again number and counting. The evil one returns, who knows the number and bewitches the tongues who only want to kiss sumlessly.


Miserable Catullus has designs on writing poems to sway a lovebird. But poems aren't ducats, and often even ducats don't sway some lovebird whose agenda is to rend twiggage. Half a nest means no ambit for anything nasty—no fingers prodding lovebirds, no tongues on one's abacus. Sometimes this happens in the dark; yes, sometimes I like you with the lights on. But nobody likes...

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