Polymer Hustle

Henry Walters

           sung to the tune of “The Rattlin’ Bog”

Start from the premise that
a sphere of acrylic resin falling
off green baize into a leather pocket

is an unfailing sound.
Begin from there. Well
now questions are there questions.

What is the sound. What
precedes backward. Follows
after. Is it undiminished

forever. Before the fall
the kiss. Before the kiss the purr
of slate. Before the purr the

hard palatal click of one
against another against
the thump of leather cue

conversing with chalk conversing
with ash grain
with talc in the thumb cradle

with smooth jointure of
elbow forearm fingertips the whole
hot corpus superconducting the aim

of one mastering eye for which
light is a reflexive
verb unfailingly pronouncing.

Doing this unfailingly is called
running the table.
Doing this and only this

is called a wasted youth.
Why I will on my one day certain
if unknowable death bed rewind

to the climactic invisible sound
of a black ball disappearing itself
off the edge of the known earth

is that the question or the chorus coming
round or the rules of the game or the free
carom of delight

that sets a motion moving...
Once in a while time takes place
as if it were made of particles in space

and orderly. But thinking of time
I run before and behind
myself and if I have a fate I know

the knowledge of it never fails
to sync up at the speed of sound
and always—thunka trifle late.

Henry Walters’ poems, essays, and translations have appeared in the Threepenny Review, The Yale Review, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, The American Guide, and elsewhere. His debut collection of poems, Field Guide A Tempo, was named a finalist for the 2016 Kate Tufts Discovery Award.