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About this Poem 

"I was fascinated, reading Catullus translated by Peter Whigham, how he writes in several modes that are unpopular today: letters and maledictions in particular. And he calls everyone by name. So I wrote a letter to my uncle. I was also interested in seeing if I could write differently, and Catullus and I sure write differently. Like many of his, this poem is only one sentence."
—Matthew Rohrer

After Catullus

If you, Tom, could see this inflight video map

of the world turning wildly on its axis

you would not, I think, be mad, though it is not

on paper, and that is what you do, but it is

a useful thing to see the earth twisted up like this;

it is our minds that are twisted, and you

are twisted too around a spoon, and drunk, I’m sure

by now, like me, past Newfoundland’s shore

with other peoples’ wine and dotted lines

to Bruxelles where I will only be

to switch planes, but you, I think, first went

there of all the other places you’ve been,

gobbling up the light as you went,

sending presents wrapped in maps.

Copyright © 2013 by Matthew Rohrer. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 7, 2013.

Copyright © 2013 by Matthew Rohrer. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 7, 2013.

Matthew Rohrer

Matthew Rohrer

Born in 1970, Matthew Rohrer is the author of several poetry collections, including Surrounded by Friends (Wave Books, 2015), Rise Up (Wave Books, 2007), and A Hummock in the Malookas, which was selected by Mary Oliver for the 1994 National Poetry Series. 

by this poet


There is absolutely nothing lonelier
than the little Mars rover
never shutting down, digging up
rocks, so far away from Bond street
in a light rain. I wonder
if he makes little beeps? If so
he is lonelier still. He fires a laser
into the dust. He coughs. A shiny
thing in the

It was a basement with its own basement,
and in that basement were machines
and dusty weapons, the engines of the house;
where the floor gave way because of intense pressure
from below, and magma boiled up
through the wood-looking tiles;
where to leap to safety
broke my sister's foot;
where the animals that

Nothing is more important to the ant
whose exoskeleton has been breached
by mushroom spores that are now
controlling his nervous system
and compelling him to climb to a high leaf
only to die and release the spores
over the whole forest
than this poem about his sad plight.