Navy Coffee

by Eric Forsbergh

Boil us a pot. Fresh.
Or yesterday’s.
We don’t care
as long as there’s no skin of mold.

Better take it bitter. Black.
Pull up a stainless chair.
Regurgitate your dark blood.
I’ve got nowhere to go,
surrounded by gray steel,
red exit lights,
the overhead ting
in nests of pipes,
the heave and shudder of a ship
plowing through
multitudes of troughs.

Navy coffee:
glue, lubricant, truth serum, fuel.
Something to go with
a stamped metal food tray.
It’s the only atsea substitute allowed
for your favorite poultice
of nicotine tar and alcohol.
A poultice you could smear on
to cover the fact
that she may lose interest
when you’re nine months at sea.

On your return,
if you show up at his door,
her dad might break it to you easy.

He could smell it coming.
Like him,
you’re one more man
with animal remains of war
hung around your neck.