Enjoy Being Human

Peter Stein

What to Do on a Sinking Ship

When you first discover the boat is taking on water,
stay calm.

There are hundreds of ways to discover
the ship you are on is going down

A sudden jolt tosses you
to the cabin floor

Shoes soak through as water bubbles up
from between your feet

Sirens wake you
from a sex dream

The sight of a rogue wave approaching
more slowly than you'd imagine

You hear hissing
from the innertube

The first step is to stay calm,
Stay calm as mortal terror floods the hull

Stop the ship from taking on more water,
plug the hole with your finger.

Patch the ship with a slab of iron
using an underwater welding torch you see in the movies

If the boat is capsized, flip it back over,
stay calm.

Bail the water from the boat with a bucket,
a Dixie cup, your bare hands if necessary

Find a plastic tube, you can syphon the water out,
that would work, right? Stay Calm.

Think back to old MacGyver episodes for inspiration,
MacGyver was always calm.

Learn to swim,
stay calm.

Punch sharks in the nose, I heard that scares them away.
Stay calm.

Curl into the fetal position as fluid fills your lungs,
warm thoughts of the womb come flooding back.

Stay calm,
stay calm.

Drunk On New York

Madness is unrefined passion
Passion is exonerated madness
Yak's milk is sweet
and I drink to no end

No end
like these streets—
I walk every one
and never grow tired

knowing even eternity won't last forever
and I have a train to catch
out to the countryside, where a mad yak
waits for me

with an infectious smile
with pure milk

which I drink to no end
and think of the endless city streets— with bronze idols, glass walls,
cemented paths

That is all behind me now
The streets are behind me
The train is behind me
The mad yak is behind me

goading me to keep going to no end
goading me to drink her milk to no end

until the last sap of life is drained
so she can sleep to no end

so her dreams become my dreams
and my dreams travel beyond
the endless city streets
who refuse to sleep

They drink me to no end
consuming the same mad yak visions
that gestate in the womb of slumberless nights
who give birth to babies

that overrun the endless city streets
with cries for yaks milk
The wails resonate
off skyscrapers as

an admission of want for nothing
other than mother,
an omission of subways, stadium deals,
condo complexes, dreams of electric sheep

A call for transformation
of pavement to pasture
and the world's city citizens
to sprout curved horns

grow hooves, don thick coats of fur
and udders and udders
filled with the passion and madness
of yaks milk

About Peter Stein

Peter William Stein is the president of the League of Minnesota Poets. His poems have appeared in Autoanatta, The Talking Stick Vols. 23, 24, and 25, Sleet Magazine, and Poetry City, USA. He has also taken first place in the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts Chapbook in 2015 and 2016. He published the book of poetry Auto-Bio (Amberskye 2011), and the chapbook Belly Up (Autoanatta 2015).

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