Poetry: Pool Hall School, JL Williams

Pool Hall School

Of a boy who shot his brother
and walked away.
Of a way to watch a death
and feel it’s pleasing,
framed in a metal square and pressed beneath glass.
This much we’ve learned.

Of a quiet mascara-friendly reserve
that reveals no more in mourning
than the token rain.

Of a veil of black lace
draping whatever thin shadows
topple through grey light
over our faces like bars.

How to lose and let go
of the loved one, not the self
and spend the afternoon after the funeral
pacing a pool hall,
beer in hand upon hand,
lit by screens alive
with massacres wrenching by
in the pot-holed streets.

This much we’ve learned –
how to hit with cold precision
one shiny ball against another

so it reflects in garish distortion

bloody eyeless faces bending toward a speechless hole.


JL Williams’ poetry has been published in journals including Poetry Wales, The Wolf and Fulcrum. Her first collection of poetry, Condition of Fire, was published in 2011 by Shearsman Books. She is Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library.

Poem previously featured in Edinburgh Review 137- Haggis Hunting: fifty years of new playwrighting in Scotland.

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