By Isobel Williams
The ballad of drawing at the sex club
The ballad of drawing at the sex club
Some scholars think Catullus sixteen
Is the dirtiest poem they’ve ever seen
Because he tells two gentleman friends
He’ll do rude things to their fronts and ends
But in the real-life situation
He wouldn’t itemise his intention:
When boyz get down or up to it
In areas dark or brightly lit,
Aided by sweet-smelling lubricant gel,
The narrative style is show not tell
And on their way to in flagrante
The topic could be Elena Ferrante
Or people in Durham they know in common –
Dicks may be big but talk is small.
You can be sure the ancient Roman
Is posturing rhetoricallee –
Translators, don’t use words filthee
(He’s a reliable sex-club gnomon).
I know because I am there to see
With pens and sketchpad on my knee,
Welcomed by the managemēnt.
Now, how should I dress for such an event?
Enough white linen to clothe a convēnt,
My pearls and plastic laminated
Good Housekeeping pinny, all quite dated,
But in this context, if only by stealth,
Everyone’s wardrobe speaks utter filth.
The more mysterious don’t wear clothes.
I sit in light that’s not too dim,
Peaceably drawing, very prim.
A prince among men says, ‘I don’t suppose
You can talk and do that at the same time,’
And sits quietly next to me in the club
Until he feels ready to join the hubbūb.
I’m glad to have made a launching space
And everybody is equally nice.
People are indoors having a smoke
And bonding over Diet Coke.
Groups will form to do this and that
While others watch or have a good chat.
There’s apparatus to amaze you
Not half as forbidding as school gymnasia.
The medical room lets people shed
Inhibition on the bed
Under the well-known cross of red.
Four men form a close connection;
Another plays with his erection.
‘There are lots of interesting people here,’
A young man tells me, donning his trousers.
Confident players, swingers with spouses,
Breasts and bottoms and penises free
Or buttoned up as they can be,
Singles sipping water or beer,
Newcomers, old-comers, low-key cheer,
Professional titles left at the door,
Comfy sex-islands on the floor,
Fishnet stockings and handbags neat,
Monstrous high heels torturing feet,
Cages and whips and strange contraptions,
Bowls of barrier contraception,
Basques, suspenders, dashing moustaches
But if you like you can wear galoshes.
I keep busy and use my nous.
The boss, he pays me a compliment:
‘She sits there like a little mouse
And gets us.’ Thank you. I’m content.
Although I very rarely commēnt,
As I sketch a resting gent
I suggest he might try undies of silk
Instead of his chosen synthetic ilk
But ‘Sometimes you just have to,’ he says,
Sat in the swing with his legs outspread
To have his red balls on display,
The most relaxed he’s been all day.
He’s one of the pleasantest chaps I’ve met
And we natter a little about crickēt:
I mention my former next door neighbour
The famous slow left arm spin bowler.
There are an awful lot of men
Who save their excitement for Wisdēn.
And when I need to have a pee
The house domme clears the way for me:
She drives the punters from the wet zōne,
Tells them they are very naughtee
(They’d have paid plenty for that alone),
And bars the door with her fair bodee
So I am afforded privacee
(Compared with here, it’s luxuree).
As I leave early, our hostess prettee
Kisses me on the lips to see
If that is of interest to me.
Back home I sleep like an innocent child.
In my absence the joint goes wild.
One night, after drawing bondage upstairs,
Which is nothing to do with these debonairs,
I think I’ll pop down for a minute or three
To introduce an artist, Rosee,
Plus her friend whom I don’t know from France.
Now he decides to stay on and dance
Or pounce or flounce or take his chance
And says later that there he enjoyed
Whether girled or womanned or manned or boyed
Or grouped or toyed or unalloyed
The second best night of his life,
The second best night of his life.
The management have learnt their lesson:
His next visit will be the best one.
With thanks to Nina and Aidan at BiZarre Events, London
Copyright (c) Isobel Williams 2022
Proudly published here by kind permission of the author.
Find her book of drawings and poetry 'Catullus: Shibari Carmina'