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23 January 2019

Reading the Odyssey on the Riviera dei Ciclopi

A new poem by Tarn MacArthur.

By Tarn MacArthur

Sometimes it pays to be the Nobody slinking alone
around salt-slicked boulders and pulsing medusae
with a bladder of wine on your back and the infinite
book of the sea turning page after page at your feet,
while blood-lustful gulls go screaming overhead

through the unblinking eye of the sun. What better
way to pass the waylay of an angry god? Popping
sardines and sucking jus from the heads of prawns,
the love of your life playing out the role of footnote-
of-faithfulness in some far-off home. Let it all go.

Down the cliff-backed promenade the dark haired
Calypsos drift like Ogygian cave dreams. If it’s been
a year then it’s been twenty. So tell me how this ends.
I’ve lost my place again. The winds are out the bag
and every breath blowing me back to the beginning.

Tarn MacArthur lives in Edinburgh and is at work on his first collection of poetry. He is currently a George Buchanan PhD scholar at the University of St Andrews.

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This article appears in the 23 Jan 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Who’s running Britain?