Written by Poetry

NaPoWriMo Day 28: Navy Words

A poem about where I slept when I was deployed overseas in the US Navy and how that bed was the only personal space on the entire ship.

NaPoWriMo Day 28 - Navy Words

Todays’s NaPoWriMo prompt asks me to write a poem that describes a bedroom from my past in a series of descriptive paragraphs or a poem. It could be your childhood room, your grandmother’s room, a college dormitory, or another significant space from your life.

I wrote a poem about where I slept when I was deployed overseas in the US Navy and how that bed was the only personal space on the entire ship.

Navy Words

Berthing on a ship is Navy-speak for ‘sleeping room’.
In my berthing, I had a rack barely big enough for me.
That’s another Navy word.
A rack is a Navy word for ‘bed’.
While ‘bed’ is a civilian word for comfort, ‘rack’ is the Navy word for unforgettable steel slab.

My rack was part of a three-bed stack.
That’s three racks, one stacked one upon the other.
Mine was at the bottom.
About eight-inches off the deck.
Deck is the Navy word for ‘floor’.
Everything in the Navy is called something different.
It’s over 200 years of tradition unchanged by progress.

That bottom rack turned out to be the best.

First, there was a lot less climbing that way.
I did exchange a ladder for nasty feet.
The guy across from my rack had the worst.
His feet, and the feet of the other 60 mouth breathers too.

Not single luxury suites here.

Second, the bottom rack is… well… on the bottom.
You have to get low, really bend your knees, to get in.
And that’s the advantage.
Sailors sleeping in middle and top racks always get found.
Sailors in bottom racks are often overlooked.
There is a Navy strategy in not being easy to find.
My bottom rack was like a secret fort.

Few could find me.

And Third, it was the only place on the ship that was mine.
Out of everything that made up that 80,000 ton Navy vessel, that rack was my only sanctuary.
My only escape from work, depression, and madness.
Who knew isolation could be a sanctuary.
And that’s where I spent 1,800-hours of a 6-month deployment.
Deployment is another Navy word for ‘away’.
Away from my family for over 4,380-hours.

Almost a third of that time was me, hidden away, in that rack.

That a long time to be inside a coffin.
Oh, coffin?
That’s another Navy word for ‘rack’.
It’s not a proper name for it, but it is fitting.
And under my rack, the one that feels like a coffin, is a locker.

A coffin locker.

Every Sailor knows about the coffin locker.
It’s another Navy word for ‘space under the bed’.
Funny how the Navy word for drowning is ‘Davy Jones’ Locker’.
They say that when you fall off a ship and drown.
A drowned Sailor is in ‘Davy Jones’ Locker’.
This means that ‘locker’?
Locker is just another Navy word for ‘bed’.
Only it’s below my bottom rack.

Deep below.

I wonder if those Sailors get any sleep there?
I’ll bet you that nobody will find me there either.