Six blocks from City Hall the old Fire-Chief’s
Headquarters has granite gargoyles smiling
Over the garage doors, perhaps the last
They ever carved in Philadelphia.
They wear stone fire-fighters’ hats and one blows
Foam from a stone mug. The sculptor saw his
Work and did it. Did Allinger’s have gargoyles?
The old poolroom could have used two or three.
The ornate building is gone, but the old
Pool shooters have second-storey memories
Of stone creatures staring down Market Street,
Protecting the green-felt-covered tables
Lighted by lamps in a chalk-dust haze
Conducive to tales of Atlantic City.
You sat in high-chairs made for men watching
Nine-ball, a game starting in a diamond
Configuration’s shattered positions,
Ending with the solid tap of cue to ball
Then a secondary click, the nine-ball
Rolling white-gold-white over the green table
Toward the pocket; and in the last sound
Of the ball draining from pocket to bin
Was summarized all the dissipation
Of despair, the exaltation of hope.
The cardinal dimension was head
Over heart. I think gargoyles were watching
Outside. The place is a parking lot now,
The Fire-Chief’s headquarters comes down next year.