Eight Ball—for Jack Myers

by W.E. Butts

There’s a Buddha on my desk,
and he’s laughing.
We of the West believe
if you rub the Buddha’s belly,
good fortune is certain.
But none of this matters
tonight at the pool hall,
here with a friend
his shrewd eye and steady hand.
Again, my shot
misses its intention,
and I’m moving inevitably
toward some final chance.

The Buddha was a gift
from my wife.
I believe she meant it
to point out the way
to be different from the self
is to be the self.

For example, the sly
yet generous hearted manner
with which my friend approaches
the green table and stands,
for a moment,
like a Chinese monk
meditating at the edge
of a quiet field,
is exactly who he is.

He understands
what’s important
is more than knowing
what will happen next;
that paying attention
is how we come to the small globe
about to spin away from us,
and call it “safe.”

“Eight Ball” was previously published in The Aurora, and was reprinted
in Sunday Evening at the Stardust Café (First World Library, 2006).