They whistle the fine smoke
Of blue dust from the cue,
Suave as gunslingers, never
Twitching one muscle too few.
At ease, holstering their thumbs
In trimmest waistcoats, they await
Their opponent’s slip, the easiest
Of shots miscalculated.
Their sleek heads shine, spangled
With the sure knowledge of every angle.
Once at the table, they bend
In level reverence to squint
At globe after globe, each
With its window of light glinting
On cushioned greener than green,
The rounded image of reason.
One click and cosmology thrives,
All colours know their seasons
And tenderly God in white gloves
Retrieves each fallen planet with love.
Watching them, who could believe
In the world’s lack of balance?
Tucked in this pocket of light
Everything seems to make sense –
Where grace is an endless break
And justice, skill repaid,
And all eclipses are merely
A heavenly snooker displayed.
Yet all around, in the framing
Darkness, doubt dogs the game.
?Snooker Players? from Waking Dreams: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2010), ? Lawrence Sail 2010, used by permission of the author and the publisher.