The Pub Skittles
Soft grained and weathered
by Daniel Janes
from a lifetime in smokey rooms
the men sit in hats, jacketed
with their bitters, half in gloom.
The light casts in distant grain,
pub skittles are the motion
sticks support their aged frames,
one chuckles, a slight commotion.
They are all dead, fifty years, more.
The pallor would have jukebox,
old men would not last an hour
in a room with cushions, skittles lost.
At eighty it no longer does to wander
with men whom you knew as boys.
Will I ever share a stout or bitter?
Far away was my place of toys.
Go to college, they said, the world…
At twenty-one the trails were cold…
One by one the ties unfurled
until I am condemned to be just old.