at night and shows its belly or its tender scales,
is neither kind nor unkind, just restless.
It is only the wet road hissing.
The animal truck is passing.
Stepping off the kerb I meet
the look, direct and arterial
of calves, perhaps – too high
and wild for sheep – their eyes
pour through the slats marked
J NES & SONS LLANDYSUL. Rain
comes gently down and eyes
slide by like a slow contraction.
The dead are among us, trailing
their cortisols down North Parade.
Behind me a child sounds a nasal
reveille. The lights are changing
and we carry our soft uninjured
bodies to classrooms and ofﬁces.
Here comes the hard rain, rinsing
the calm street and our tender shoes.
The hands of flight attendants
shake us like napkins
from thin air
and place us helpless in our own laps.
How precious we are,
two hundred or so fitted gems.
They have blessed us and
rendered us so light and airworthy
they must buckle us down
for our own good
like a vestibule of hysterics.
Now they mime over the head
like so and here is the whistle and here
the tiny lantern; if that happens
we will follow Natalie’s Sanjay’s Astrid’s
polished fingertips into the foam
and help must arrive
like a microwave dinner
from their ﬂedged palms. Nothing
can take place that couldn’t be passed
through the capable hoop of their
fingers; not the aircraft itself
and its smooth chambered tonnage
nor our small hooves kicking
as the hands whistle through us,
setting things bonelessly upright.
as minor domestic psychosis,
like love, or credit –
the megalomanic swoon of it,
the ego kicking in its booster seat.
Guess who passed ﬁrst time,
despite Dad slamming his brake-foot
through the passenger footwell
of the Volvo every Sunday afternoon
for months: it takes hours in empty carparks
for a girl to saddle up to hazard,
which isn’t to say she won’t learn
to love it, seeking herself at speed
by night in black rain on a jag of hair-
pin bends, per second per second
unhitching her training-wings
to feel the body’s soft bud hang
like light in space. Look, daddy, look
at all the things a fast girl can let go.
12 Two parts of rain
14 Farm Sale, Tregaron
15 Animal Truck
16 Two moments in white
20 Match day
21 The Starling Cloud
22 La poulette grise
26 A Film of Gannets
28 Barstool, by Michael Warren
32 Boy with Red Umbrella
33 Girl with Blue Towel
35 Woman with Paperback Romance
38 The hands of flight attendants
39 Media luna
41 Old gold ring trick
43 First communion
46 Ear worm
48 8 Mühlenberg Weg
50 Female Reproductive System
51 Male Reproductive System
53 On driving
54 Five-finger exercise
55 On crying
56 Phallus Impudicus
Reviews of Tiffany Atkinson's Catulla et al:
'Thin-skinned, labile, multi-hued and engaging, these poems enact as much as describe. They are speech in action… The poem…becomes an event' – Oliver Reynolds, TLS.
'A smart, sardonic and vulnerable updating of Catullus…Atkinson’s versions are in the finest tradition of creative adaptation: keeping the originals as ballast, but unafraid to sail off on their own tangents… Other poets translate Catullus; Atkinson creates Catulla, a modern, anxious, sympathetic and merciless persona, caught up in a life she sees through but can’t quite get beyond’ – Patrick McGuinness, Guardian.
'Occasional poems start conventionally enough in landscape of the weather and disclose their depths through tautness of style and singularly precise imagery. Others…riskily balance captivating surfaces and dark narrative lacunae' – Douglas Houston, Poetry Review.
'Catulla augments Atkinson’s fabulous inventory of metaphor and feeds her poems the drama of living language where lines stop in the middle, don’t obey rules. Her work is funny and brave and Catulla exerts a moreish power over it' – Jackie Wills, The Warwick Review.
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