Birthday Bowl - Daniel Thomas

Is there any sound quite like the cacophony
of a bowling alley? …the din of bowling balls
smashing pins that crash together and tumble
on a polished wood floor? …or the sad sound
when a ball slips into the gutter, then thunks
into the gulley at the end of the lane?
The continuous clamor, punctuated by shouting
and laughter, is so deafening that one tiny
six-week old, hidden behind a blanket
in his stroller, sleeping, perhaps dreaming
beneath the delicate blue veins of his closed
eyelids, one new person named “Eddie,”
sighs himself out of a deep sleep.
He must be shocked to wake to this wall of sound
unmuffled by the gauzy waters of the womb.
His face frowns, lower lip sagging,
before the first cry comes out, but when
it does it’s a shriek filled with dismay
that even the new mother and father cannot
dissuade. They take turns passing him back
and forth as they continue their game ‒ this special
afternoon a story to be told to him
some day ‒ the father’s birthday, the older children,
a family with a new member, the beer and cheese
curds, the lonely fellow, whose only comfort
in this crazy place is the warm, full breast
of his mother, and she, wearing her two-tone
bowling shoes and gliding towards the line,
just needs a good roll to pick up a spare.

Daniel Thomas’s second poetry book, Leaving the Base Camp at Dawn, was published in 2022. His first collection, Deep Pockets, won a 2018 Catholic Press Award. He has published poems in many journals, including Southern Poetry Review, Nimrod, Poetry Ireland Review, The Bitter Oleander, Atlanta Review, and others. He is retired now, but in his nonprofit career worked in many positions, including as executive director and chief development officer. More info at