Introducing The September 2009 Readers – 2. Brian McCabe

Brian McCabe grew up near Edinburgh and studied Philosophy and English Literature at Edinburgh University. He has been a full-time writer since 1980 and is currently editor of the Edinburgh Review.

He has held various writing fellowships, including the Novelist in Residence post at St. Andrew’s University. He was the Scottish/Canadian Exchange Fellow from 1988-89, and more recently, has held Writer in Residence posts at Perth and Kinross Council and Edinburgh University. He won the Canongate Prize in 2000.

He has published several poetry collections, including One Atom to Another (1987), Body Parts (1999), and Zero (2009), along with three short story collections: The Lipstick Circus (1985); In a Dark Room with a Stranger (1993); and A Date with my Wife (2001), as well as a Selected Stories (2003). His novel, The Other McCoy, was published in 1990.

The Romans

Listen up. This is how
we’re about to count from now on.

We got a one: I. We got a five: V.
We got a ten: X. We got a fifty: L.
We got a hundred: C. We got a a five hundred: D.
Also plus and we got a thousand: M.

That’s it. That’s all we need.
The fuck with dealing out letters
to two three four six seven eight nine,
eleven twelve thirteen etcetera.

Those motherfuckers can go eat shit.
The rule is: you add the little fish
if it comes after the big fish
because the big fish eats it, right?

When the little fish comes before
the big fish, you take it away –
on account of the big fish ain’t
ate it yet, okay? Any questions?

Whaddya mean howdya write
one hundred and sixty-four?
Am I talking to myself here?
CLXIV. Dumbfuck.

This means Tony the Scribe
only needs to know seven letters
to run any number we tell him.
Okay let’s go eat Chinese.

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