THE COMING OF SPRING
Playing pool at the Prince Bonaparte
Was not always such a genteel pastime.
I’m not saying you were going to be knifed
Or have your gut perforated with a pool stick,
Just that you got looked at. If you’ve been looked at
You’ll know what I mean. The smoke was good
And the stink of beer, and altogether the sense
Of usedness the place had, like an old tool.
These places are gone or going now
Because renewal is the luxury we have time and money for
And doesn’t the year do it, anyway?
Isn’t it natural? Isn’t there a happy bruise or two
Of purple crocuses on the green?
Don’t we rejoice?
I’ve not drunk in the Prince Bonaparte for years
But if I went I would miss the smoke and the spilled beer
(It’s more merlot now than ESB)
And even the being looked at, and I’m afraid
That in the good food and the new décor
And even the svelte young women, I would not rejoice.
(This originally appeared in The Spectator and is included in a forthcoming collection, called 'Private Places' (Indigo Dreams))