Like harnessing some miniature solar system sway
the weight of so many glass planets
shifting in tight sleek orbits
inside that leather bag was my admission
to one of the secret worlds of boys
where I first learned of the imbalance of power
collusion and making up rules as you go along.
Knuckling down, the town boys glared
blank as clearies, and calling bombsies
the country boys’ irises danced wild as aggies
and out on that hot flat asphalt realm of no fairsies
even at nine I knew there was more
at stake here than my pretty blue catseye shooters
and the coveted rare steelies which could only be won
or stolen in spring from farm boys after their fathers
changed ball bearings in essential machinery.
Someone could lose a heart.
Maybe if I had not learned to be the first to call
quitsies and walk away holding, if I had
stuck and played and learned the jargon
and precarious rules, I’d have been on top
of your strategy from the start.
Yet, as every clean shot hit its target square
sending one translucent world following another
spinning out from the inner circle into old familiar
outer territory, I could never predict
how once you ran the ring
and won all of mine, you would turn
to me, not like the other boys
and hand over all of yours.