Tilt

April 16, 2015




I pressed the coins into the box
And the balls rolled out.

I pulled back the handle
And... the spring stretched back
And... I released it...
And... the game began.

Just as they always had...
The steel ball... began to bounce.
I braced my fingers over the buttons
That controlled the games flippers...
Bent forward to see just a bit better...
And... played the ball.

If you hold the flipper... just so...
You can catch the hard steel ball...
And once you catch it...
You can position it... aim it...
And collect the points as it hits
Against the various counting walls
Of the pinball machine.

Fancy moves... are hard to do...
And... I'm lucky just to flip once or twice
Before the ball rolls... inevitably...
Back into the depths of the machine.

For every good hit on the counter
A bell rings...
And points are made...
And if you make enough points
You... win a free game...
And... do it all over again.

I've seen some people play this game...
Who... seem to have developed
A personal relationship with the thing.
Some... get quite physical as they play...
Looking more like they're playing tennis
Than a bouncing steel ball.

Some people talk to the machine
Calling it names... and vulgarities...
As though the machine was a partner
Who has to be trained and conjured
In order to achieve... the climatic win.

You have to be fast.
Your fingers have to move fast.
You need to know bouncing angles.
You have to keep the ball rolling
Back... upwards...
Towards the counters...
Again... and... again...
Before it... finally...
Hits the wrong wall...
Or slides past the flippers
And is lost in the hole.

My ball... hit the back wall...
And was reflected with great speed
Toward the hole...
And... flippers of no use now...
I threw my body into the machine
To create reverse momentum...
And...
The lights went out...
Except for the part of the machine
That said, "Tilt."




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