Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Collector’s Items

by Robert Nisbet

They’re ranged out on his sideboard,
where he can see them through the day.
The whisky glass. He hasn’t had a drink
for years now, but it was inscribed minutely
by the regulars in the Nag’s back bar
before he left for retirement. Then
the photograph of the one racehorse
he once part-owned, Autumn’s Reign,
be-decked after his one win, at Haydock Park.
There was as well the brown tobacco pouch,
but they’ve thrown that out. He doesn’t smoke now,
for God’s sake, but they’d sniffed and sulked
and said it smelled. So he just has the whisky
glass and Autumn’s Reign. He tells the girls,
the carers, about them. But he knows damn well
(he’s not daft yet) that in the world of talk
Spin ‘em a yarn sometimes gets knocked back
by Boring old fart. But he chats the girls gently
and they listen, he tells them of Jack McGuire,
Jack the Lad, the jockey (they’d have liked young Jack),
and characters in the Nag’s.
                                             His nieces are the trouble
(his nieces, for God’s sake, that one who’s
a therapist is worst), now they’re snuffling about
the whisky glass and the photograph.
Sometimes he’s badgered till he’s querulous,
but then his eyes will glitter and he’ll shout at them.
And then they’ll scurry off, conceding him
his thoughts of the Nag’s back bar, good cheer,
and Autumn’s Reign thundering wonderfully
down that long home straight.

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