Shane & Skyler & Jayson hear the crack

of Bakelite on Bakelite & Bakelite,

& don’t watch as the balls run the course

that God determined in a quiet hour

before, even, we had made our first

rough stab at His invention.

They look at Skyler’s phone & lift

their heads only to survey the leave,

briefly, & deem it good or bad, & don’t

reveal their judgment to the camera.

Shane & Skyler & Jayson have no desire

to be a plot device, an obstacle, seemingly,

at first, impossible to overcome,

but overcome eventually, with grit, with luck,

with some contrivance in the second act:

a dead mentor’s words remembered

at the moment of their greatest relevance

& understood at last, an undiscovered

reservoir of skill, a last-ditch push

to lift these years’ weight of mediocrity.

But they know the game they play; they know

a hill is easier to tumble down than climb;

they know how breaks & run-outs run together

like some underachiever’s syllables

in the post-match interview. & they know,

for now, they’re safe in their folding chairs

in the audience in this small side room

in the stadium in Gibraltar, where you can hear

the planes take off from the nearby airport,

heading anywhere but Gibraltar.