Pastoral Sketches

A loose “dystranslation” of one of Virgil’s Eclogues, which I’ve been playing around with this month.


“My love’s run off with a beat cop”
goes the cry
from Gallus and everyone
gathers round to listen
even the bees fervently
“like” his status
Apollo himself “shares” it
with a pithy comment
or two
the lament spreads and all the shepherds
condemn Licorice
as a dumb cooze while
demanding to know the name
of this fucking cop
who probably beats her
and even worse
hates poetry–
only Pan chimes in
with a rude remark:
“Do you think Love
gives a shit for your whining
any more than hills are moved
by music or winter chill cares
for your sable coat?
Fuck you, Gallus.”
And Gallus replies
“Fuck you”
and the whole thing devolves
into a flame war with nymphs
and naiads weighing in
and in the midst of it
a voice whispers plaintive
but rough
as envelopes ripping open
or wind snapping on
plastic bags caught
in winter branches–
or the sound of dry reeds
when a small bird
lands causing them all
to shake

Do you think Love gives a shit…”
becomes a meme
that haunts Gallus across
various platforms
shepherds post sexy pics
of Licorice
on Instagram to taunt
him, even
is no safe place
secretly he loves it
misery is the fuel
that stokes poetry
so Gallus curses
poetry’s ineffectual
tropes and hunts for
some new mode of
lament, snapping pathetic
selfies on bridges
with the whole city burning
behind him
all a-riot with Love.
Never mind Licorice
never mind the many
flavors of Icelandic yogurt
they once enjoyed
pomegranate and pistachio
and banana split–
all of it
fodder for some poignant
bit of narrative
a warp in the weave
a woman’s body
only a stitch
a footnote
a rubbed-out mark
on a dry-erase board
a rough draft
for some new

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