Whisper it here: “Nero has an ass’s ears”

– O troubled humanity! O the emptiness of life!

– Who wants to read about that?

– Are you asking me? No one, by Hercules!

– No one?

– No one or two.

–That’s wretched, pathetic.

You know how to serve up warm tripe,

Make a shivering client the gift of a second-hand cloak,

Then say ‘ I love the truth, tell me the truth about myself.’

How can I? Do you want me to say you’re talking rubbish,

Baldy, you with your fat belly sticking out a foot and half?

O, bi-faced Janus, never suffering gestures behind your back;

Pecking storks; nor waggling hands imitating donkey’s ears;

Nor a hanging tongue like some Apulian dog dying of thirst!

But you, of patrician blood, you who must do without eyes

In the back of your head, come see the grimaces behind you.

– But why must you savage delicate ears with bitter truths?

Take care lest the thresholds of the great grow cold towards

You: here there’s only this endless noise of a dog snarling.

– Well then, as far as I’m concerned then, everything’s fine.

I’ll not delay you. Bravo to all, all’s well, you’re marvels!

Does that satisfy you? ‘No one permitted to kick up a stink,

Here!’ you proclaim. Put up the warning sign, twin snakes:

‘This place is sacred, lads, piss outside!’ I’m off. Lucilius

Tore into the place, targeted you, Lupus and Mucius, broke

A canine on you. And crafty Horace touched on every fault

In a smiling friend and, once admitted, toyed with the heart,

Clever at dangling people from his briskly-shaken muzzle.

No way I can whisper it? In secret? Down a hole? Nowhere?

Yet I’ll bury it here. I’ve seen, I’ve seen them, little book;

Is there a single one that lacks ass’s ears? That’s my secret,

That’s my so slight jest, but I’ll not barter it with you

For an Iliad.

Whoever grows pale at Aristophanes’ anger,

That grand old man, or Eupolis, or is fired by bold Cratinus,

Glance at this too, maybe you’ll like to hear what’s distilled.

I want readers with cleansed ears, fired by such stuff, not

Some wretch who delights in poking fun at Greek sandals;

A one-eyed man who loves to call another man ‘One-eye’,

Who thinks he’s something, full of provincial importance.


– Selections from the ancient Roman satirist Persius’ Satire 1, accompanied by images of Jabba the Trump, a one-of-a-kind hand knitted sculpture by Teresa Chan, made in collaboration with her son Paul. As Mike Kelley wrote and both Persius’ Neronian Donkey and the twittering Twump confirm: “the stuffed animal is a pseudo-child, a hypersexualized monster.” You can buy this work here, on the Badlands Unlimited website.

One thought on “Whisper it here: “Nero has an ass’s ears”

  1. Pingback: Howling True Names: Corwin Clairmont’s “Submuloc Warrior Visits D.C.” and Jimmie Durham’s “Columbus Day” – Minus Plato

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