Larry pushed the dice aside, grabbed
the handle of the empty pitcher, cursed
his bad luck and my good: his turn to buy.
Along the bar mostly locals: two ex-G.I.
college types, Scott the local print shop
owner, Jody in her tight hip-huggers,
same as always pool ball clatter;
I closed my eyes for just a moment,
glad to be there, work forgotten, bike
locked against a parking meter just
outside, how many times? how many years?
Jody and the college types disappeared
and Ron, my high school buddy twirled a pool
cue in my face. “Play a game or two?”
he seemed to laugh and thirty years or so
collapsed, bike at the curb, fountain cokes
and grenadines, dime each to play
the snooker table, pinball by the front door,
49er poster scotch taped to the mirror.
The Academy, old Ivan’d named
the place, how or when it disappeared
I never knew but that I’d been there
seemed important. “Beer here!” Larry blustered
as I watched Ron disappear. “Pool halls,”
I said to no one, are blisters stuck
to memories, they never go away.
Robert Joe Stout passed away on July 20, 2019, in Oaxaca, Mexico. His writing lives on. He will have a new book, "Trump vs. Mexico" coming out later this year. His wife, Maureen Ryan, will continue to tend his writing and submissions.