Here it comes.
The beguiling dance of little balls cresting and falling
On the bottom of the screen
Warning me… his slingshot is pulled back.
His next best shot soon to be hurled my way.

There it is!
A funny jab, a sarcastic boast, a dreadful pun
That clears the court for me to hit back with skill and speed.
A clever parlay, a razor-sharp line, served by me, his well-matched opponent,
His sly playmate who can, with a flick and florish,
Deliver the climax to his crescendo.

But I got nothing.
I stare down at my phone,
My hands sweaty and numb,
My mind twitchy with fear,
A panic pounding in my ears.

Desperation scurries through my brain,
Like a hungry rodent, sniffing the attic floorboards,
Searching for that tiny crumble of over-ripe cheese,
Only to end up paralyzed and panting in the corner.

I’ve lost my game.
Or am I just out of practice?
We used to volley back and forth like this for hours
Late at night,
Like two pros playing for the pure pleasure of the game.
Each on our edge, each gunning to outplay the other.

His texts, short, curt, and spiked with sarcasm.
Mine, staccato and smart, served with a sharp-edged spin.
I’d toss one over and grin, knowing the point was mine,
Knowing he was done for,
Knowing his only response would be a sad emoji or LOL.

But now my quick-witted well is dry.
My brain, a broken metronome,
My funny, forced and frail,
My wit so dull it couldn’t cut cream.

Perhaps I’ve grown weary of this game,
The endless bouncing, bouncing bouncing
Off of hard surfaces.
This monotony of morse code messages
That confess nothing, invite nothing,
And say even less.

Here comes another one.
I watch the cartoon balls rise and fall, then
Swoosh! He serves up a two-word slice of the sardonic.
I lunge at it, my eyes shut, my hands tight,
my synapses flailing like wind-ripped flags.
I see my words arch in the imaginary air,
And dread their destiny as they fall flat and four feet out of bounds.

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