is another way to ask you let me tell you
how to love me, to say why at night I curl
into the shape of a question mark: the summer Bobbie Womack
sang from the kitchen radio, the summer Gary
drowned in the quarry, and how I cut class
and walked everywhere that year, how I read Beckett
in the park I was seventeen I was a boy
whose chest was like a black balloon
someone was letting the air out of slowly.
Sometimes I think I hear stories rise from the felt
of all the wins and losses that occurred on the tables
over the years. Sometimes they rise into the air
and you think you hit a shot good, but it hits a word
and veers off. You don't know WHY the shot missed,
but it was that word from a decade ago, that was hidden
in the cloth. A word said the night back a decade ago
when someone lost their rent money
over an unmade nine ball, and stood
out in the parking lot after not knowing
where to go or what to do or what to tell
his woman. Not wanting to drive home.
Under a moonless sky. Blue chalk
like dried blood staining his palms.
Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author of 15 books including the forthcoming The Second O of Sorrow (2018 BOA Editions), On the One Tongue of the Wind the Orishas Rise (2016 GTK Press), and All You Ask for is Longing: Poems 1994-2014 (Boa Editions). His awards include the 2015 Betsy Colquitt Poetry Prize from Texas Christian University’s Descant Magazine, and an appearance in Best American Poetry 2014. He lives in Erie PA, works at Gold Crown Billiards, tours, hustles, and writes poems about stuff that happens in his city between the lake and our wrecked and gloriously ruined and beautiful American lives.