Nicotine & Coffee in CIC: recollection

— naval ship 1960-61

Chief leans on the small counter
on elbow, time-in hash marks show
on that arm’s jacket’s sleeve

he stands leaning,
left hip against the counter front
left leg bent at the knee
calf crossing in front of the right
so his left foot’s to the right of right
perpendicular to deck
bent toe stuck to the floor, heel up
while everything rolls in gentle seas
which is good because a coffee-cup’s
sloshing in his bent arm’s hand
as he thoughtlessly shifts to the
steel ship’s roll and he reaches up
after a simultaneous drag,
to pull aa cigarette lips with two fingers
of the other, squinting,
(most of which scene is lost,
Chief’s cocked hat and all,
in aicotine cloud glowing like a borealis
in a dark room of blue and amber light,
—the blue of radar screens and yellow
of status-board bulbs) on a vessel tuned
to the scents of smoke and brew,
the beat of a PO’s tales and seaman’s laugh
rocking eternally to
Neptune’s blues

Jim Culleny