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 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
(Though 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 decor
And even the svelte young women, I would not rejoice.
NB I'm delighted to say that the great Hugo Williams has considered this poem fit for publication this week in that august and discriminating journal of fine writing, The Spectator
Further reading: The Moon under Water by George Orwell, to be found here.