by Liam Strong

Nuclear fusion is a type of reaction
in which two lighter atoms combine

to release energy. This, however, rarely happens
when I play billiards. Each florid particle

of phenolic resin banking off the turf.
Let’s get this straight: a bet is

a bet only after our hands become one
limb. There’s something about honesty lost

when my fingers straddle the cue
like a hunting rifle. I’m still not used

to handshakes. How all intimacy begins
at the wrist. How the balm of

our touch mingles like a proton
balancing an electron. These are

called elementary particles, schools
of thought watered down to

a ricochet. There’s a lot of us
in bars like this, hunkered into a circlet,

bouncing off each other’s shoulders,
around the ceramic of our frailty.

I can always drink to breaking
down what haunts us most.

The heat mists up my glasses on winter
nights like this, but I can still see where

I’m aiming. I’m calling it. 8-ball,
left corner. I’m calling it. We’re stuck

in here, you, me, the green nuclei
of a lawn between

us. You always think I’m here
to win. You never think I’m here to be stuck,

but then again, I still owe you
$5 for last week, so what does that

say about combining your winnings,
my losses, all of me, drained like a battery,

with a trick shot? I’m calling it. We’ll be
here forever, and even if by accident

I sink your stripes,
it doesn’t mean I missed.

Liam Strong is a Pushcart Prize nominated queer writer and studies Writing at University of Wisconsin-Superior. They are the former editor of NMC Magazine. You can find their works in Impossible Archetype, Dunes Review, Monday Night, Lunch Ticket, Chiron Review, The Maynard, Panoply, Prairie Margins, and The 3288 Review.


Photography by: Nazareno Contreras