Poetry: Warp Drive, or the Cabin Boy of Starfleet


If you’ve never traveled faster
than light, count yourself
lucky. It does mean things
to the body. Your bones

get soupy, you can’t stand up
straight, and you totter
like a baby gazelle, wobbly,
full of fright. But the Captain

with his bald, Shakespearian
grace makes it all look
so easy. The way his big hands
splash across his chest

when he smoothes his uniform
or slaps his combadge
with dictatorial haste. He even
pulls off being pissed

with panache. I, on the other hand,
am only hailed when there’s a spill
on the bridge or an accident
on the holodeck. Too bad,

at this point in history, nobody’s
improved on a bucket
and a mop. Swab the deck,
ye dog, he says to me

with a wink, quoting Stevenson,
I think. At night he watches old
Merchant & Ivory flicks
or BBC tapes, practicing

his delivery. Make it so, he says,
bare-chested, while I disinfect
his sink. He brushes his fingers
against my cheek and booms,

Don’t make me pull rank.
When I slap his hand away,
he laughs. Then he reads a little Pliny
before he falls asleep while I massage

his feet. The second I stop,
of course, he wakes up
coated in sweat. Nightmares
of Romulan attacks or perhaps

it’s something deeper
than that, something he can’t
remember, or won’t. Don’t stop,
he tells me, and I don’t.


All rights reserved to Gregory Lawless.

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