Neptune’s Blues

— naval ship 1960-61

a seaworn Chief leans his elbow
on a small counter near the bridge hatch,
time-in hash marks on that arm’s sleeve—
stands leaning, left hip against the counter front
left leg bent at the knee
its calf crossing in front of his right,
left foot to the right of the right
perpendicular to deck, heel up,
nonchalant, while everything rolls in gentle seas,
which is good because a coffee-cup
sloshes in his bent arm’s hand
as he without thought adjusts to the
steel ship’s roll and reaches,
after a drag, to pull butt from lips,
squinting— most of which scene is lost,
Chief’s cocked hat and all,
in a nicotine cloud that glows like a borealis
in a dark room of blue and amber light
—blue of radar screens, yellow
of status-board bulbs, martial, naval hues
backed by tuned scents of smoke and acid brews,
with the beat of a PO’s tales and Seaman’s laugh
which roll and rock eternally
to Neptune’s blues

Jim Culleny