The Poet Pool

570I drank that shot at midnight to honor my grandmother, and pounded the beer backer to give the games fairness. It’s a handicap for your pleasures, as my last year of avoiding misery has given me too much practice at winning, and I don’t care to use that to build my pride.

Your weakness is clear in your friend worrying you might lose, and with his doubtful eyes my game is tainted. If he could just step out of his shell of potential shame, and meet my gaze with a smile, we might have fun.

Did you see me flame out in ping-pong, because I haven’t played that game in years and lost with style. Some of my best friends would have been irritated about the way I played, not for the actions in the volleys, but for the ending of it. I was glad they weren’t there for that, because my failure was beautiful. Everybody laughed, and the hearty handshake I got wasn’t faked, as I had done my best….with a handicap.

The two of you are in the corner, and I wouldn’t have chosen to play with you, but the other tables were taken up with pairs of lovers. Looking back I wonder if maybe you were gay. I hope not for the sake of your lonely beds. Why didn’t you encourage both of us? Was it another moment of us and them?

You both left your table discussing the next place to go, and he stuck around to ask me questions. Either that or he wanted to see what I would do in my next game. I had another beer to honor the fact that I am too lucky, and winning is not why I play.

I love the moment when the cue leaves the table, spins out-of-bounds on top of the rails, and comes curling back onto the deck. I pray for the winning shot to be true, but in the last moment of your dissatisfaction’s, to lose by a scratch.

I cannot play to lose, but I can shoot to have fun. It’s like staring into the sun of a good time, and expecting it to stay clean. While you chalk your stick, I’m waiting for my shot. Don’t you chalk your stick before you shoot? Didn’t you just miss? So I get the other chalk, and we stand there like fools, chalking our sticks at the same time. Man, mine is all chalked up already, I was ready to shoot, when is this going to end for us?

Finally, convinced that I’m willing to rub that thing into a blue cloud of dust, you put the box of precision love powder down, and let me finish my turn. Did you learn anything here? It didn’t help your next try, did it? Now we get to play the who is crazier game, and frankly, I’m writing a book of poetry on that, are you?

This dynamic doesn’t change much with alcohol….for you. It does for me, so Happy Saint Patrick’s day to you my new Muslim friend, sign language for lift up the spirit, is the same for all people. I hope if you ever get as practiced as I am at this game, that you understood what I was doing.

Welcome to the school of pool. I lose better than I win. Mostly because I don’t tolerate my own imbalances, and winning every time feels like that. Losing feels like that too, but at least I did my best and got drunk, while you got some practice behind the eight ball.

Having not forgotten to ask if you loved the game, I did my part. I cannot hide the joy bursting out of me, and it makes me the freak. Well, I’m getting less tolerant of my enthusiasm being a problem for other people’s attitudes. Is that why the bar’s keep emptying when I play? I cannot seem to grasp the knack of entering alone, having a good time, and leaving feeling like I haven’t cleared it out. It doesn’t have to be late or early.

Give me an hour, and I’ll have the bartender cleaning the counters and staring in exasperation at his failed tilling. It’s like the enterprise is my responsibility. If I plug the jukebox well, and buy just enough alcohol to fit in, everything is okay. If I don’t do it right, then it could be a blessing that everybody went home early. It’s weird, and in my mind is my fault. If it didn’t happen so many times I’d say it was a fluke, but at least I hide it in a few days when all the pieces fit together, and people stick around.

In my mind fitting in isn’t the ultimate goal, but I still do my best to try. Writing isn’t helping the fitting in, but it is helping the outfitting. Taking in the details of why I’m not like people in a room, and occasionally finding a kindred spirit who will encourage my presence emphatically with a concentrated discussion on any art, my hat stops chaffing my brow, and sits precisely on my well-being.