“The Hive” by Robert Nisbet

The far West of Wales, 1965

Rhys and John were Victorians, after all,
born 1892 and ’4,
so in Arnold’s café, in the mornings
(Arnold had laid the papers in),
they’d read of London and the 60s
with mounting shock. The Sun, The Mail, Express.
Permissive horrors showered on their heads.

Then came the girl and boy, in London now.
She was young Mamie’s niece, the girl,
on a history course in King’s.
(And Rhys and John would read of miniskirts,
the King’s Road, Chelsea, Rolling Stones.
Their wives damned blisters off the miniskirts
and all who strutted in them. Hmmm.)

And the boy, a nephew of Butler the coal,
and he was at that Economics place.
Demos, riots, Chairman Mao.
But they started coming to Arnold’s often,
and reading The Guardian, on holiday mornings,
talking to Rhys and John across the room.
(telling them of trad jazz and espresso bars,
of Marx and the ancient Greeks.)

He was a nice lad and, what with that,
and the lovely girl she was,
Rhys and John were radicalized,
late in quotidian lives.



Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet, living a little way down the coast from Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse. He has published widely and in roughly equal measures in Britain and the USA. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee for 2020 with “Cultivation” (Sparks of Calliope, 2019).

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