NOR 19 #40: Bank Shot

By Greg McBride

Featured Art: Horse Race, Siena, Italy by Walter Shirlaw

I asked about the old days, when they
were my age—my mother scrambling eggs,
Dad and I at the table. He aimed a glance
sidelong at her, then took a shot toward me:

             We’ve been very lucky, Son.

He must have meant their gamboling, teenage
marriage after weeks of jitterbug jokes
and getting-to-know-you’s in the Abilene
Lady Luck pool hall in 1941.

Her silence like the hush of a tournament
match, the cue’s tip skittish at the ball,
probing for angle and spin, velocity,
the all-important leave and follow-on.

By now—both gone so long, both unlucky—
I understand his game, how words can
travel in disguise, their spin covert,
as on that morning when his mumbled plea

caromed off me—sharply, as off
a felted cushion—and spun toward her,
determined at the stove:

             Come on, Honey, let’s play.
             Let’s keep the run alive.


Greg McBride is the author of Porthole (Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2012) and Back of the Envelope (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2009). His work appears in Alaska Quarterly, Bellevue, Boulevard, Gettysburg, River Styx, Salmagundi, and Southern Poetry Review. His awards include the Boulevard Emerging Poet prize and grants in poetry from the Maryland State Arts Council. A Vietnam veteran and lawyer, he edits the Innisfree Poetry Journal.

Originally published in Issue 19.

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