An Archaeology Student Thinks about Sex in Maes Howe Chambered Tomb
She’s aware that Gavin’s staring at her bum
as she bends double, clambers along
the long dark passageway into the tomb.
The others follow, cluster round, eager to learn.
Her lecturer begins his talk; all about midwinter
when this tomb aligns with the setting sun.
He offers theories -
about it being a humongous womb,
the sun-god penetrating the long stone vagina,
rays striking the back wall, impregnating Mother Earth,
ensuring fertility and good harvests in the year to come.
As theories go, it’s pretty good.
Gavin’s standing close, she feels his body heat
in this claustrophobic chamber.
All this talk of penetration, sexual congress overwhelms;
her nipples tingle. She moves, imperceptibly,
leans in towards him. Feels his breath upon her neck.
Tonnie Richmond has, since she retired from working in Local Government, spent her time either doing archeology in Orkney or writing poems. As the digging gets harder, she finds writing a slightly easier choice. She has had several poems published and is currently working on a collection of poems about Orkney.
I loved you so much, paperboy
You filled me with such a joy
doing your newspaper insertion
Then Sandra Goode gave you the eye
And on your bike, you passed me by
Now I read the online version
Tennis is a game,
where they talk about love,
but spare none for the ball.
The thwack of the racket,
played politely by vicars,
with more than the scriptures
on their minds.
We are left out for the dog,
when our playing days
are little remembered.
We are mouldering,
greener than jealousy.
over the line,
under the net,
one last game,
for old time's sake.
Had a goatee,
A large stomach.
“God sees all,”
“The lord giveth as taketh away.”
If someone said,
Genose would say,
“It’s not his fault.”
Despite his Christianity,
Genose, 55, hit on
Who worked at
The bookstore’s café.
I’m sure the girls
Thought him creepy,
But felt bad;
No one reported him.
Genose got hung up
On an 18-yr-old
Despite there being
No evidence that
The girl was interested,
He was heartbroken
When she told him that
She’d prefer if Genose
Never speak to her again.
In the breakroom afterwards,
Took large bites
Of a reheated
Philly cheesesteak sandwich.
Grease trickled down his chin,
His eyes wet.
“She was the one,” he said.
I punched out at the timeclock.
“She would’ve been perfect.”
I didn’t know what to say;
I mumbled something
About things like this happening;
Then walked out to my car.
On the way to
The hamburger place
Across the street,
I thought of Genose—
Which was worse:
To end up like Genose
And be aware of it;
Or to become someone
And be so delusional
That you’d think that
A pretty 18-yr-old
Would be receptive
To your advances;
That you were as normal
As everyone else.
Monitoring my body
I don’t know when it happened,
the slowing down of the limbs
the desiccation of skin
the pains breaking in me.
I borrowed the body of a spider,
the waist plump
the back arched
and legs and arms thinning.
My hair changed too
from straight and black
to crispy and grey
like my Sicilian grandfather.
Impossible to revert.
Inside I feel the same as before
slimmer and in shape.
In my dreams I fit in size 10-12
the mirror reflects 14-16.
Nothing is safe.
This fragmentation is my doing
The days spiral down
like yarn unravelling in the wind
spinning a shapeless web.
Thank you for my life flowing.
Thank you for the years that will come.
Carla Scarano D’Antonio obtained her MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in magazines and reviews. Her short collection Negotiating Caponata was published in July 2020. She was awarded a PhD on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading in April 2021.
What do you think of
when you imagine Christmas?
Is it the fancy eats and sweetie treats
in mouth watering an-ti-ci-pa-tion?
Or is it the gluttony of Christmas
that overloads your mind
with thoughts of our out-sized,
engorging in the felicitations?
And when you think of Christmas sounds
do you think of the beauty of a choir,
singing mass at the mid-night hour?
Or the distorted speakers of the ‘Rotary’ sleigh
going round, with collectors shaking tins
on damp December afternoons,
and a skinny man shouting a thin “ho-ho-ho,”
lost inside the outsized Santa suit?
What do you see in your minds eye
when you think of Christmas?
Do you see the delicate twinkling tree,
put up lovingly by the whole family
or the glittery, over-dressed shop windows
and the grotesque street decorations
put up in October half-term, taken down,
perhaps, in time for Easter celebrations?
Maybe you think of the thrill of giving?
Bringing joy with your gift of a toy,
carefully chosen, wrapped and sent,
all savings spent? Or is this sentiment
lost in greedy commercialism?
When every child is asked to produce a list
and every shop sells gifts of badly-made-tat
to fill the stockings of each ungrateful brat.
What about the scent of Christmas?
Do you imagine oranges-stuck-with-cloves,
and hot mulled-wine which wafts to your nose,
mixed with pine needles, and warm mince pies?
But no, with Christmas trees made from plastic and wire,
and radiators, not a real log fire, and no time for making –
instead there’s the faking of the Christmas smell
sprayed from a can, which M & S sell.
But think of the excitement of Christmas…..
the thought of finding, with wriggling toes
a stuffed Christmas stocking… and thoughts of,
the possibility of, “What if it snows?”
And the thrill of seeing all those relations,
not seen since last year, (at Auntie Flo’s)
not since the last blazing row about….
ah well – who remembers what?
Another year flown, another marker for how we age,
see how the children have grown, since last time.
Sarah J Bryson has poems published in print journals, anthologies and on line. During the Covid pandemic, she took part in a weekly event, combining photographs with haiku style poetry. She has several poems on the Poetry and Covid site. She has been recently commended in the YorkMix poetry competition
This is what culminated from a brief encounter at Sainsbury’s. It took five minutes to make up a rhyme about the extremely brief dalliance, but I think I had a close shave and dodged a bullet, yet unfortunately if the guy hadn’t been in such a hurry to ‘get his leg over’ we could have made fine music together, but I’m pleased that I usually always go with my gut feeling about things, and this guy was far too forward for comfort. Shame, really, he wasn’t bad looking but he let his mouth run away with him.
SOMETHING FISHY …
I met a man, while out shopping, at the salmon counter,
he came over quite suave and quite slick,
a few weeks on from that chance encounter,
he turned out to be naught but a fanciful dick
He kissed me and hugged me the minute we met
So charming – he addressed me “Dear Madam”
But how familiar is it right for a stranger to get
When I didn’t even know him from Adam
We exchanged our phone numbers and as days went by
I waited to hear from this Casanova
But I’d text and then wait but get no reply
So before it begun, it was practically over
He finally rang and arranged that we meet
His excuse for no contact? He preferred not to text
We went for a coffee on a posh market street
Where he wasted no time saying how much he loved sex
Well, I was appalled and quite taken aback
It was far too soon to be talking that way
But he took me to lunch, at Kings Road Seafood Shack
And when the huge bill came, he was happy to pay
(80 quid’s-worth of food was devoured that day)
Though we chatted at lunch and duly both laughed
With the same sense of humour we shared
I got a bad vibe and I thought myself daft
I could’ve been an old boot and I don’t think he’d’ve cared.
He mentioned the sex thing again I had noted
He clearly had his own agenda
He was quite up front, not a thing sugar-coated
And showed himself up to be a pretender
This encounter has taught me to be somewhat wary
This chap had manners like a pen full of swine
His ulterior motives can seem somewhat scary
But in truth that’s his problem, and certainly not mine
It’s been over a week now and he’s disappeared
At his hinted intentions, I told him where to go
Asking if I was adventurous – far too forward I feared
And on that score the arse’ole will now never know
He met her at the Art Gallery.
Made eyes at her
across a Caravaggio.
Saw her framed against a Miro.
Watched her glide along
an avenue of Monets.
She saw him standing
like a prick
between two Pollocks.
Published in ‘The Republic of Ted’, Thirsty Books, Edinburgh, 2003.
Eddie Gibbons has six published poetry collections. ‘What They Say About You’ was shortlisted for the ‘Scottish Poetry Book of the Year’, 2011. He was a prizewinner in the inaugural ‘Edwin Morgan Poetry Competition’, 2008. He has a poem in the Bloodaxe anthology ‘Land of Three Rivers’. Twitter- @1Eddie_Gibbons
I am a soggy biscuit
I am murking
at the bottom
I am a sang-widge
you thought you threw away…
a Summer ago
I am a surprise from a stranger
who’s known to the Gardaí
you didn’t wear your glasses
you thought I was waving
but I was wanking
beam is a 26 year old poet from Ireland. She has participated in workshops led by Kevin Higgins, read at Galway City’s Literary Organisation event ”Over The Edge” and has been published in Cabinet Of Heed, Broadsheet.ie, Impspired, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Spilling Hot Cocoa Over Martin Amos, WordCityLit, Ink Sweat and Tears & Open Skies. Recent work includes; surviving the pandemic and several disappointing sourdough loaves. She is becoming the kind of person who says the things you ”aren’t supposed to say”. You can find more of her poetry @personalbeam on instagram.
From the Rag
Time drags as the barmans rags wipes another stain away from the bar top Feelingas though the clocks have all but stopped and the hourglass sand or the biggest hand are heading backward
Its funny how stood here in this palace of beer church to excess as tobacco laden breath requests another and sings a sad lament Cursing them who lurk on borders them past into obscurity and them who are royally fucking up the country whilst doing their best as you see… its complicated
Bleary eyed hobbling from pint to pint to bookies and back handing over scrunched up notes pulled from grubby back pockets as there lips smack down the sweet nectar.
Straightening ties telling the same lies how its just a quick one on the way to the office when we both know they will be back tomorrow.
Hearing grumbles and strife about distant kids and ex wives after pint after pint after pint
Some starting early
or some continuing
a perpetual night out that
they can never bare to end
Best mates at breakfast become bastards by lunch
as they are too drunk to stand let alone throw a punch
but then its all just a part of the carbon copied institution once known as a pub
Where now they serve kiddies and professionals grub
whist in the corner they lurk
all crude gestures and smirks
till its time to wobble back to bed
rest their red faced weary heads
grab a sarnie
grab a kip
buy the paper