Before 6 p.m., the pool hall's empty
besides the Chicago crew,
who still swear by
Cadillacs, Coltrane, and Cuban cigars.
They’re Vikings, who look across the table,
their ocean, their starry night,
connecting balls like constellations,
mapping journeys before chalking up.
Every one of them has lost or found
his stroke between sunrise and sunset
in a pool room as dark and lonely
as the back pocket of a worn pair of jeans.
At some point, all have lost to the game:
a wife, a child, a home,
friends, self-respect, family heirlooms,
retirement, or sanity.
They talk about the good ole days,
specific shots and calls made before I was born,
when so and so ran x number of balls
in a joint that no longer exists.
They’re dinosaurs like the Cadillacs
they’ve been driving long before
The Color of Money
exploited the mechanics of hustling.
Because the game takes both art and science,
they are Newton, Newman, and Neruda
blending physics, pool, and poetry
their Cadillacs, faithful, always wait for them.