Nebraska 43: ‘when butchers shoot pool’ by Stacey Waite

sometimes one of them goes overboard
sometimes one of them gets drunk
sometimes one of them starts a fight
with a woman who looks like Tony Danza
sometimes one of them sinks the cue ball
sometimes one of them gives the other the last cigarette
sometimes one of them becomes the other’s father
sometimes one of them holds the pool stick like a rifle
sometimes one of them makes fun of the other’s side spin
sometimes one of them hits a three-cushion bank shot
exhales quietly and grins like a pool shark
sometimes one of them has the blue of the chalk on their fingertips
or the blue of the blue chalk in their blue eyes
sometimes one of them calls the other a sissy boy
sometimes one of them plays a sexist song
on the juke box and calls their partner “the wife”
sometimes one of them slaps the quarters down on the table
like it’s the very last pulsing left in their beating hearts
sometimes one of them imagines their rage contained by the triangle
watches it crack open in the other’s clean break
sometimes one them calls the shot by nodding their head
in the direction of the intended pocket
sometimes one of them is wearing the same cologne
they wore in high school
but when the night is over
when they’ve left the bar without yelling or fighting
when they’ve left the last bills for the bartender
when they’ve both spit on the city sidewalk
when they’ve reached the fast food parking lot down by the river
one of them would hold the other if they cried
not that they cry
just
if they did

© Stacey Waite

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