Our eyes meet in the darkness

Pupils suspended, electrified

Shy, uncertain, you turn away

Your gaze burns off into the air

Like a malfunctioning pinball machine

Or a glow-in-the-dark rug

When they turn the lights on.


The next night, we return

To lose ourselves beneath the crystal lights again

Screens pulsing with cold static

Not half as loud as my heart pounds

When our gazes meet again

I’ve seen you here before, a hundred times.

I’ve watched you every one.


Off in the distance, bowling pins

Crash down like our inhibitions

Our dreams, ignited again by the electric hum

Our only witnesses Pac-Man and Space Invaders,

Our serenade, the pinball machine’s endless cacophony.


Will I ever feel it again?

The thousand eyes on me, burning

From behind row after row

Of pixelated screens with glass

Thicker than your heart

That I have finally penetrated.


Or so I hope—until the lights come on

At the end of the night,

And you slip away yet again.

The dream of making you mine at last

Pops as easily as a bubble

In a glass of soda from the pizza shack out back.


Alone in the back of the bar, I revel in

My shallow victory, those few seconds you were mine,

Until the dream was smothered

Along with a thousand joints in the ashtray

Sucked into the void like a bowling ball

Far beyond the gutter.


led lighted bowling arcade machine
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

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