by Robert Nisbet
The first singers were cowboys,
Frankie and Tennessee Ernie and Slim,
moustached like velvet, yodel’s colour
backed against prairie and range.
My Hebridean father, human bagpipe,
would drone through the parlour
with the boat songs of Mingulay and Skye.
Bernie, riding the hill into Broad Haven,
would give us Lonnie Donegan
and a song of stacked pig-iron
shifted by rail on the Rock Island Line.
On the last bus home on Saturdays,
we’d larrup the rhythms of an old mill
by the stream, Nellie Dean,
the sentiment lapping with the beer
against the back teeth of the evening.