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Summary

This poem is only eight lines long, so you probably don't need a summary. What isn't included in the text of the poem, however, is a bit of background framing the lines we read. The poem lists off the thoughts of some young guys playing pool at a pool house called "The Golden Shovel," that seems pretty straightforward. But it's actually more complicated than that. In fact, the lines we read are what an outside observer thinks these boys might be feeling. So this observer, our speaker, thinks the boys might have dropped out of school, be drinking gin, staying out late at night, enjoying jazz, and will have short lives. How do we know all of this background information? From Gwendolyn Brooks, of course. You can listen to Brooks talk about "We Real Cool" (and listen to her read the poem, too), on Poets.org.

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