Town House

This is a Georgian front. The street’s
distinguished, but this row of shops
is drab: Betfair, Red Cross, Kebabs.

Bay-windowed here, a sitting room
two centuries back, and Mary then,
accomplished, needlecraft and flute,
and she first reader in the town
of Sense and Sensibility.
Outside, the pobbled street was rough
with rowdies, roaring boys, long draughts
of home-brewed pub and alehouse beer.

A century later, in the same
fine high- and Georgian-ceilinged room,
the rector’s daughter Martha kept
the faith, would squeeze out every week
her sixpence for the cigarettes
sent to the brave boys at the Front.

Now Betfair’s there, the corner coign
is Mandy’s terminal. She’s liked
by customers but always seems
to draw the derelicts, the run
of older punters, nursing hips
and coughs. Unheard, she nudges them
to nice safe waters. Mr John,
the odds you want is shorter ones,
it’s tens, fifteens. Small bet each way.

They like the crack, the smile, the girl.
They come to very little harm.

Robert Nisbet

If you have any comments on this poem, Robert Nisbet would be pleased to hear from you.