Lifeboat Drills

Michael Albright


Imagine you're on a boat    sailing for south rain  
You're not in your right mind   left brain   the empty
side with the broken clock   Imagine you're the boat
& I never said you wouldn't sink    
                                                      This wasn't my idea  
you say It's your bad bet to make not a sign from god  
I think about this while the cigarette smokes itself  
Funny how this foil pill packet slides right between
your teeth like floss Yes you say   because it's thin
& sharp like metal     I'm surprised there's not more

         Casinos on cruise ships are no big deal so many
chances for risk & loss but it's all hands on deck at five
to play the game of survive the wreck all those hands we
can't afford to play wagers we should have never made
This ship won't sail until everyone's counted   Do I have
to actually say my name?  you ask   Yes you have to say
your name   This orange thing looks ridiculous   I know
I say but it starts to blink when you hit the water

                                                                                   At dusk
we sail into the night each blazing queen busking the wake
of the one before   We ride the cargo lanes to Old San Juan  
as if an errant chunk of Spain could save us We take coffee
to fish flying thousands to escape from sea into sky You
fidget   I stall   You demand I tell you something so I say
The veranda is the gateway to the soul but only if that
soul is yours   You look at me like I'm a circus clown
& say I have no idea what you are talking about

                                                                                     At dinner
I see you shiver when the captain speaks of the giant magnets
Later I find you on the rail at stern watching salvation churn
in the floodlit wake   You can buy all the scotch in custom free  
but can't drink until you get home   If you sink I say I'm sinking
with you   I have taken on the husband's bargainto deliver back
the world you knowor join you in the one you don't

                                                                                             In port
we wait for the airport shuttle   You say I hope you're happy  
& then look away I know this is the best we can do I know
it will have to be good enough When you taught me how
to play you said   Bet as if you put nothing in the cost
is sunkthose chips are gone   We flamewe flicker  
then blaze again   There is no island
I would leave you on

Michael Albright has published poems in various journals, including decomP, Rogue Agent, Stirring, Rust + Moth, Tar River Poetry, Pembroke Magazine, Cider Press Review, Moon City Review, and the chapbook In the Hall of Dead Birds and Viking Tools. He lives on a windy hilltop near Greensburg, PA. with his wife Lori and an ever-changing array of children and other animals.

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