In the Ashmolean – by Duncan Chambers

 

The Italian kids with the red rucksacks
circle each other like cats.
They all want selfies with the scribe Amenhotep,
with Zeus from Artemision.

I have a plastic bag and sandwiches
for later in the Parks.
But first I will sit a while in this small side room,
re-read the faded label:

clay tablet, Minoan, linear C. Symbols nobody can read
or ever will. Olive groves,
a marriage settlement, the boundaries of a field?

Perhaps, but I am free to think it could tell me,
if it chose, the songs the women sang at dusk,
in Aphrodite’s temple, brushing each other’s hair.

 

 

 

Duncan Chambers is a University researcher living in York and working in Sheffield. He has been writing poetry (with gaps) since the 1980s and has been published in various magazines including Ambit, The Rialto, Stand, The Interpreter’s House and The North.

Action Man is 50 – by Duncan Chambers

 

He taught me how to skin a rabbit,
set a fracture, the elements
of Manichaean politics:
generals, ministers, your mates.
You trust your mates, he whispered
in the darkness, no matter what.

They booted him upstairs, of course,
into a shoe box with Minnie Mouse
and a broken fire engine. They said
his eyes were creepy, stabbed him
in the back with the word ‘doll’.
He was going to tell me soon

what it was like with a girl
and how he really got that scar.
Flat on my back in the top bunk
with my brother snoring and war
about to be declared downstairs,
I wondered again what a mate might be.

 

 

Duncan Chambers is a University researcher living in York and working in Sheffield. He has been writing poetry (with gaps) since the 1980s and has been published in various magazines including Ambit, The Rialto, Stand, The Interpreter’s House and The North.