“Four, Three, Two, One” by Robert Nisbet

The four men would gather like geese,
cluster in the café at eleven every morning,
for a damn good cackle. Good crack.

In the Long Haul Café, they rollicked,
the four of them becoming three in time,
mocking the world of Smart-arse phones
and Farce-book. They’d all done courses once
at the local tech, and hooted now
at the Mickey Mouse degrees, the kids
who should be doing a good day’s work
(they’d done National Service themselves,
it made men of them). They loved
their mornings in the café. Then there were two.


Eleven one morning in a pretty spring,
Laurie came in slowly. Liz the waitress
brought his tea (one sugar, dab of milk),
said, On the house today. Pouring the milk:
How was the funeral? Laurie jollied,
Yup. Saw the old boy off. Good funeral.

Megan, his late wife’s cousin, came across.
Chit and chat of her son and his partner,
and Laurie, for the first time ever,
was looking at a Smartphone. She scrolled
and Laurie gazed, his understanding flickering.
He sent you these from Leeds? Two hours ago?

She told him of the boy’s degree
in retail management, and Laurie, aware
of the comforting thigh beside him
and her being there, smiled.
Sounds interesting. Sounds very interesting.



Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who lives about 30 miles down the coast from Dylan Thomas’s boathouse. His poems have been published widely and in roughly equal measures in Britain and the USA, where he is a regular in SanPedro River Review, Jerry Jazz Musician and Panoply. Robert is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee for his poem “Cultivation.”

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