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Today I gave out the poem ‘Cave Quid Dicis, Quando, et Cui‘ by Ciaran Carson. I asked a woman if she understood Latin: “Do I hell!” I told her the title translated to ‘Beware of what you say, when, and to whom’ and she nodded: “I learnt my lesson a long time ago.”
I also met a man who said he’d taken a poem off me last time, who said he liked it but: “I think it would be more effective if it used simpler language.” He’s going to hate the Latin! But don’t let it put you off – this is a really fun and strange poem. It’s from Carson’s book Opera Et Cetera (Bloodaxe, 1996) which starts with a poem for each letter of the English alphabet, and ends with a poem for each word of the phonetic alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie…etc).
I had Andy Porter on my show today to talk about his instagram-haikus, the NuJazz Collective, and to hear a special mix made especially for the show! Listen here to find out what Andy thought the word ‘pantechnicon’ meant…
Cave Quid Dicis, Quando, et Cui
You will recognise them by their Polaroids that make
the span between their eyes
Immeasurable. Beware their digital watches; they are
bugged with microscopic batteries.
Make sure you know your left from right and which side
of the road you walk on.
If one stops beside you and invites you in, do not enter
You’d be participating in another’s house removal.
You could become
A part of the furniture, slumped in some old armchair.
That would be unwelcome.
Welcome is the mat that does not spell itself. Words
don’t speak as loud as deeds,
Especially when the safety is off. Watch it if they
write in screeds,
For everything you say is never lost, but hangs on in
the starry void
In ghosted thumb-whorl spiral galaxies. Your fingerprints
are everywhere. Be paranoid.