Bio Note: I’ve lived most of my life in my native Wales, but my poetry appears widely throughout Britain and also in the USA. I have just a sneaking feeling that the latter country’s exciting contemporary poetry scene may be just a shade less gloomy, more warm and celebratory, than its counterpart in the UK. (Oh, whisper it not!). I have two chapbooks in print in Britain and was a Pushcart Prize nominee this year.
Returning on the Evening Train in 1959
Our two-carriage train would grouse its way into Swansea, a college town which rolled low and round, like its people’s vowels, down to the beach on the Mumbles road. For our new term, there’d be the girls again, in lectures, library, Union, the park. They’d be aloof, beautiful, reading, drifting with Donne, Joyce, Yeats, while we suffered the sweat of inattention, turning the pages of the library’s long afternoons. It was better at night-time, in the dances, Patti Pavilion, its jive and saxophone, the girls white-bloused, barefoot, skirts colour- flared, breasts bouncing now (the jive was good for that) and later, walking back to Hall, oh yes, much warmer. I still think of the Patti, where the street ran down to a draughty arch below the line, blasted by the railway’s roaring progress, and down to the beach, a condom trail to the pier. Other days, sitting maybe with a girl in the park, conceivably sharing an essay, and some tutor would flutter by, Good morning, Mr. Nisbet, Miss Watkins, and there’d be shades of spires and Brideshead for moments only. For the heart, the focus of the thing, was in the Patti and the leaping breasts. Nearby the railway’s roaring sparks. “Returning on the Evening Train in 1959” first appeared in Merlin’s Lane (Prolebooks, 2011).
In the Porter’s Lodge
She’s aching with sleeplessness. First paper, British history, at nine, so six a.m., the hell with it. A walk. The porter, Marguerite, is coming on. so, Come on, Helen, Come on in. Coffee and digestives, dunked. For an hour they talk and notice things (Marguerite saying nothing of her daughter’s divorce, the bitterness): They see the early dogs, the paper boy, lights coming on in the annexe, a competition, Pick-a-Swot. Their early bird, a blackbird. Then, from Margie’s ceiling a sudden spider plumb-lines down to the kettle. Joanne Morgan coming in, dropped off by a man in a Vauxhall Viva. Plenty of juice in that one. Past seven, back to change. Thanks, Margie, thanks. Any time, kid. Give ‘em hell. “In the Porter’s Lodge” first appeared in Message in a Bottle (2015)
©2020 Robert Nisbet
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