Winter 1988 • Vol. X No. 1 PoetryJanuary 1, 1988 |

Shooting for Shape

To beat the sun that branded our streets, we inhabited the dim pool hall whose tables spread even as village greens, and every game began with a clean break clacking the balls like planets over the felt. Through the window screens drifted the drone of diesels, and the burnt-orange odor of canneries. Like moths, we circled in the cones of smoky light, picking our shots. Chalk and dust sifted to the floor and whitened hands to smooth our hold on possibility. Unshaven, gray as a cadaver, Harrykept our time on the punch clock. He rocked and coughed and chain-smoked behind his dusty counter, condoned our truancy, traded playing time for sweeping and repairing tips. We aspired to the rear table where men shot nine-ball with such craft that whoever broke ran the table. They squinted through smoke at what only they could read: invisible inflections of english and angles the whirling balls would follow. Day after day, we honed our skills, racing to reach the back table before

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