Paul Batchelor


after Ovid, Metamorphoses, XII, 39-63

A world much like our own, mistempered & twi-natured, three-fold purgatorial zone
where Lord Hearsay sits with all his might upon the tallest, narrowest chair, the barstool throne
from which he helps both living & dead to die in that open fortress where no locks hold,
whose hallways buzz with bullshitters, each pushing their self-branded narrative, their spin
emptying out in the whorl of an ear; where fake news stays news, broadcast & gone but soon
repeating back, re-echoing with iterations, no dead air allowed, all filled
with hard-to-place murmurings, captious chit chat melting to a soft, insinuating drone
like far-off tidal breakers or the first tremor of thunder Jupiter calls down;
where, were you able to take the measure of a fiction, it would elaborate and groan
with new addition, tittle tattle, evil report; where everyone’s briefed & puffed & trolled
by imitators; where carefree Gossip flat-shares with Credulity; where you’ll be hailed
by Anxiety who’ll say anything once and simple Truth who doesn’t want to be consoled:
there, slum landlord, overseer of whatever comes to pass, from these waters of Tyne
to Acheron, in Heaven or on Earth, Lord Hearsay watches over all the world.

PAUL BATCHELOR was born in Northumberland. He has published The Sinking Road (Bloodaxe, 2008) and The Love Drag (Clutag, 2014). His poems have appeared in Poetry, the Times Literary Supplement, and the London Review of Books. He is Director of Creative Writing at Durham University, UK.

Read more by Paul Batchelor:

Poem in the London Review of Books
Two poems at the Poetry Foundation
Author’s Academic Webpage
Author’s Website