Poems and Poetry

Neil Fulwood

Silver Ball | A Poem by Neil Fulwood

He’s dragged a barstool
in front of the quiz machine
and neglected his pint,
has worn for this last half hour
the look of a tennis umpire
who hates both players.

A forefinger taps morse
on a knee jolting out of time
to the jukebox. The other hand
flexes, rises, hovers –
two fingers shaped like a pistol
shoot forward at a known answer,

bang off the touch-screen.
Half a century since he played
the fruit machines as a lad,
oranges, apples and limes
clacking into place, nudge and hold
making a smidgin of difference

if you were sharp enough,
but really all down to luck
and how much loose change
was an acceptable loss. Pinball
was better: the silver ball,
the buzzers and bells, the slam

of the hip against the machine,
a shop-floor nobody locked
into a fantasy of leather jacket
and Route 66, motorcycle
parked on a dusty strip, Chevys
and Peterbilts and neon signs.