Snooker players

They whistle the fine smoke
Of blue dust from the cue,
Suave as gunslingers, never
Twitching one muscle too few.
At ease, holstering their thumbs
In trimmest waistcoats, they await
Their opponent’s slip, the easiest
Of shots miscalculated.
Their sleek heads shine, spangled
With the sure knowledge of every angle.

Once at the table, they bend
In level reverence to squint
At globe after globe, each
With its window of light glinting
On cushioned greener than green,
The rounded image of reason.
One click and cosmology thrives,
All colours know their seasons
And tenderly God in white gloves
Retrieves each fallen planet with love.

Watching them, who could believe
In the world’s lack of balance?
Tucked in this pocket of light
Everything seems to make sense –
Where grace is an endless break
And justice, skill repaid,
And all eclipses are merely
A heavenly snooker displayed.
Yet all around, in the framing
Darkness, doubt dogs the game.

‘Snooker Players’ from Waking Dreams: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2010), © Lawrence Sail 2010, used by permission of the author and the publisher.


Lawrence Sail

Lawrence Sail Reading from his Poems


2Calm sea at night

3Rain at sea


5Fanfares at Eger

6Singer asleep

7The artist at 81

8Portuguese sonnet

9The age of reason



12Snooker players

13The glimmering

14Driving westward

15Paysages moralisés

16The Meat Commission, Kenya

17Eating maize

18Hammock journeys

19At Possenhofen

20A picture by Klee

21Thinking of Klee again



24The cablecar

25As a bird

26Another parting

27The enclosures

28Father to son

29In the Bar Italia

30from Ghostings


32Hallowe'en lantern

33 from Out of silence

34Trees uprooted

35A leaf falling 36On Remembrance Day 37Sloes

38White peach

39A travellers' tale 40Old men walking 41In a dream

42Not at the eleventh hour