No Smoking in Her Fo'c'stle

By: - Jun 02, 2015



      to R.J.D.H.
      "very precise to
      the quarter it comes from"
                                  Chas. Olson

Of seven bells through four
from the southwest side of Lane's Cove
to Broadway heading north

She was young --seven or eight
and finest kind
twin copper exhausts
on her roof
for her V8 Detroit diesel
not holey with rot
nor marked with pocks of rust
six panes in her wide
forward wind shield
    as shields are protection
    for Indians as
    you are in part

no smoking in her fo'c'stle
that's the skipper's home
and he don't like smoke in his home
    nevermind the saltthick air of the sea
    sticking so you're never dry
's complete with a yard high white oven
under her four black burners
just like a house kitchen stove
finest kind with
plug-in Mr Coffee Pot
against the after bulkhead
a square screened hatch above the
four forward bunks
rug on her deck
finestkind alright
out of Beals Island
where her grandfather
skipper Aaron's young dad
won the lobsterboat race
      Luke & Jody wouldn't come in with the fleet
      she makes eight nauts in calm
      eight nauts in weather
        she's that solid
broad in her beam
with a piss oak stem as
the thirtysixfoot twentyyearold Novy
we fished in the Seventies
called Lobster
moored her inside Prairie Ledge
inside Freshwater Cove
    sold her to the Moonies
    tricked by a farmer from Andover
    they rigged her for tuna
    on her transom wrote
    Katharine Marie

Luke &Jody's head is a black tengallon bucket
outside the wheelhouse  I altered her placement
toilet paper the plain towels
she carries for messages
a black and white papermate pen
amidships under those half dozen forward windows
all the necessaries
orange juice beer vodka
four sleeping bags
she's a vessel
drags and dives for urchins
popular with Japanese
inside the Londoner.
and by other arcane
parts of the Dry Salvages
which run east of Marblehead
under the Boardman Streak
to the unfinished breakwater north of Sandy Bay

Fourteen months without
you asked me for verses
on the Luke &Jody
you said write hold me tight
on the Luke &Jody
our last time was aboard ship too
on the 'ways at Lane's Cove
a vessel too much like a house
curtains twin engines
she did carry the energy to go over
poorly beached as she was
threatening to list right over on her starboard side
and flounder awash in two feet
of rising cove water
to bump the flat rocks
and the beach by the ramp
    where Vieno in her shower cap
    took her annual swim
    Mary in the bushes behind the rocks
      Jake outside the northeast wall
      wondering why Mary was late
      meeting him there
      who ran away to Florida for a year
      and came back
      Mary claiming the cause of their return
      was her ailing mother
      or father
      seems more likely they were bored
      with no Vieno to run from
        safety in Florida
        fifteenhundred miles wasn't worth the hunt
        to Vieno given nothing to do at the end
        except yell
        and retreat
        the long fifteenhundred miles

After that we watched a lovely bluefin
I argued she weighed in over the
three hundred pounds you claimed
checked the length of Luke & Jody
with skipper Aaron
in whose home I left a sweet puddle
your puddle's in me still
the kind that's
our favorite trick alright
we'd been pulling at each other for three days
you there me here
un able to con nect
you searched the cove the three days
having been there only twice since May
and yesterday I went to the cove and the ball field
looking -- first times in a year
today I reached E.D. who gave me your Broadway number
no body home in the a m
but my body had convinced me yesterday
as it pulled past the letterbox
as sure as
my body knowing
when we first met on the flatiron
seventeen summers past
as sure as my body knew your
body knew although it took us
the ten years  my/your
pulled to the cove
rewarded through the bottoms of my feet
with the heat in the flatiron's bricks
dripping arms to ocean off the dock
as awkward yuppys landed bow-in
complimenting the helmsman on the landing
knowing that water to heal the strange lump
on my finger as
surely as
I knew
our bodies
sending messages
as I knew
would have their way

I was never so electric
even in Camel on that landlocked house
with her frozen twin car engines
or in Candle Stand that other time
just out of the bath
incredulous that I could come and
come on my shoulders
so.  Luke & Jody
sweet unmellowed unique
air of the inner harbor
stars beyond Luke's mast
that air's my home
who first sailed there with
the Olson brothers
from Squam
in a race at the Old Eastern Point Yacht Club
they quit in argument by Ten Pound Island
I did not comprehend
so young as Luke & Jody
's seven or eight
her berth was a spot you disliked in May
smelling as it does not
not the same as your godscountry water
smells of satin inlet wash
by the western view from the wharf
looking toward the pilings and down
two beer cans and one bottle

Man I led you
this time --I felt
hung up there like fission
dropping trucks --Olson
my power shake the sky be
greater than your own
I half your weight
I one-eighth your strength
diving into your beard
fuzz on fuzz
wetting you down
    as on the way over,  prior to
      on Great Hill and along Nugent Stretch
      my right cheek nuzzling on the fur of
      your left deltoid, haulingstrong
      them eightypound bags of urchins
      up from three- and fourfathom ledges
      fuzzing too curling blond
      fur on your rich tan
pulling on that stump
enfeebled by infection
teasing about that plate you plan
insisting George Morey never needed no plate
you saying you want to eat
I George ate steak George ate apples
and the male menopause
pulling your pelvis with my both hands
in your both intimate median edges
in your both groins
from the dorsal aspect of you
r backside
adding your power to my thrusting
hold me tight
as I side to side crazyrapid
I haven't been with a man
jumping and pulled you up and
down quickly for a long time
leading you
very slow to melt-
ing finally floating on
you calling you cruel
to need the cigarette
I needed so badly prior to
during the drive
from the far southwestern side

You gave me two minutes three times
and I adrift
saved from imperfection
as it wasn't your cigarette
but the captain's voice
got me from the rug
and the gray bag
dressed in the instant
you found your shorts
but pulled your sock
all the way to the right elbow
before you came to notice
that arm was no leg
I found your orange tank
turned her right side
out found the white label
got it over
your head arms
in proper

Out we went
I touring the decks
you talking
to the IpswichTokenYuppy
and we all watched the bluefin
hoping for her tail steak
until the lights and the fish
went off
and you needed dog
food cat food I needed
hot coffee up east of Adams Place
at the E Z QuikStop
by that Cape Ann Market
where, in winter
the sight of you froze me
drinking your excellence to death
I preferring you alive
where will our covesoul be
you gone not yet fifty
    which will come on October's
      nineteenth day Dariel's twins then
      some twenty two
I'm one of the few who know
your age is important
    who brought the anchor to The Gloucester House
    the whale skull
    with its eye hole, blow hole
      to Lane's Cove squats beside
      E.D.'s chair she had her Erica's
      live-in boyfriend's father custom build
      making twentydollar bets
      that chair will be there Labor Day
      who told everybody the skull
      's a vertebra
I'll be a survivor
you gone

Tonight was meant to mean
you can control the consumption
keep to the two cans
meant to give your struggle
force and reason for battle
after the coffee I tried to quote
Letter 5 to help you know
MAXIMUS as in the Seventies I
was able to lead you through ee
bringing poetry by the van
the winter you spent in Gwen's driveway
we had argued, below
I was saying
i love my body when it is with you
r body
you felt another ee work
both in the lap of
hold me tight
so Luke & Jody
yes we share fish and polis
with Olson know what it is
to walk the streets of Gloucester different
as we share the link
my son drew
us close
whose Gleason's haulers park on the pier
told me I told you
after we viewed the bluefin
on the deck of her forty footer
went faster in reverse
than Luke & Jody forward
you teased your skipper
as we watched
the unsold fish
I told you
come over here
to the empty fortyfive doors open
see how vast that is?
Joe saw a single man
fill that trailer with halibut
sixty eighty pounds each
one by one
so the scales would mesh tight against each other
stacking them head to tail
so the scales wouldn't slip
a lone man in two hours
I don't know where it was
they don't have that many halibut
in Gloucester you said
maybe Boston I said

It was Joe
drew us close
saw you working
there three days past
told me and I knew you alive
not dying your dying
as at last summer's cove
gray and lost to last
July to this July
after our June trip aboard that house
you consider vessel
which is why
the sight of you sickened me so
on the market lot
as my body revulsed
sped me away
before my mind could recognize
you to be you
I pleased at my body's function
then mind too uncertain to be
trusted to not speak

The sight of my son obsessed you
these three days
you could think only of me
as I
of how
your bushed
jaw mouth face
under my electric

Melissa de Haan Cummings
10-11 August 1993