Three-Cushion Billiards - A Poem by Jack Litewka

It seemed so simple
at first glance
40 years ago. Three balls –
today, a white, a red, a yellow –
unnumbered, each larger
than a pocket-pool ball, and heavier.
Back then I gazed across
a huge green field of tightly-woven wool
stretched tight across a table
that was pocketless.
Back then I watched, mesmerized:
the balls rolled
in unforeseen straight lines
and ricochets – or, if masse’d,
in startling curves
made by the force the billiard cue
and you impart to them,
maintaining their pre-ordained
their speed
and spin
and elegance.

* * * * *

How to describe this strange world
to a stranger? In person
one can demonstrate
the common tracks and angles,
the more- and less-difficult shots,
the fickleness of cushions...
...and quickly one begins to grasp
the infinite possibilities
of failure and success.

* * * * *

Three-cushion billiards is a different breed,
with altogether different DNA.
The balls don’t disappear down rabbit holes
when a point is scored.
This game is more akin
to planetary motions,
with bigger and littler bangs,
slower and faster rotations –
more akin to
in that the tiniest effects
are monumental
and move the heart
in ways not evident.

* * * * *

Three-cushion billiards is a game
in which you try, and try again,
to actualize prediction.
Easier said than done,
given that the end result
is frequently unknown.

* * * * *

The brain, some scientists say,
is a dreaming machine,
returning, night after day, for fodder.
Three-cushion billiards demonstrates
that we are optimistic creatures –
match after match,
week after week,
year after year –
wired for those tastes of mundane joy
and for those scars of minor agonies,
which make us human.

– Jack Litewka
   Poet, management consultant, and 3-C player

20160514LitewkaPoem300X323ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jack Litewka is a 3-cushion duffer. In addition to that hopeless and ever-intriguing past-time, he is a management consultant, doting grandfather, poet, and basketball gym rat (still playing full-court b-ball three times a week). Jack and his wife enjoy international travel, and Jack tries to attend the Verhoeven open every summer in New York City.

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