I still go by the house and
sit with him whenever I am
in town – some of the time
I think he knows me.
He is always in the pool room,
though to him it will always be
billiards. He doesn’t play anymore,
arthritic hands cannot hold cues,
blurry eyes wont line up a shot.
The red felt is faded, a tear by the
side pocket from his last game,
the table light does not work, dust
on the balls and sticks.
There are old black and whites of
him on the wall – from his heyday
Grandma used to say. Handsome,
dark hair slicked back, wingtips on.
Best player in the southeast they
used to say; I never did beat him.
I remember watching him dance
around that table when I was small,
amazed at the shots he would make,
the seriousness of his concentration.
I never payed attention then to the
highball always in hand, or on the edge
of the table, brown liquid and ice.
Everyone of age in the room had one.
Today, the glass is the first thing I
notice. Still clenched in fingers that
seem to have been gnarled to the
task. He drinks always, but not a lot.
He is usually watching TV – the news
or the weather, I don’t think it matters –
but he pays attention, just a little more,
when I put on the Hustler. He smiles
when a rack is broken and salutes Newman,
every time, when he orders J.T.S. Brown.
Written for the Poetic Bloomings prompt to use ‘Old” in the title of a poem.