Geoffrey Himes

Baltimore in August

In Baltimore in August,
the rain falls but it never lands.
It descends to armpit level
and hovers there, wrapping
my torso in a wetter sweater.
To go down the block
to the corner store is more
swimming than walking.
And I love it: all the poisons
in my veins and muscles
fishing upward to my pores
and pouring into the salt water
of my second skin,
which sprays onto the sidewalk
with a flick of my finger.
Everything is liquified
in the Baltimore summer:
our hips, our elbows, our knees,
our toes, our thighs, our tongues,
all greasy and easy.
That’s why we talk like this.
That’s why we dance like this.


My Father Goes Off to War

The sailor is shorn like a sheep,
measured like a fish,
curled like a fetus
on the upper bunk.

There’s a tapping in the pipes,
a crackling on the radio,
a swaying in the bunk
as Pacific waves slap the hull.

The destination is war in Asia,
a tempting tale told to
restless teenage boys,
but the voyage is boring, sickening.

The sailor vomits
off the side of the ship.
He wipes off his face
and reports for duty.

© Geoffrey Himes

Geoffrey Himes’s poetry has been published by Gianthology, December, the Delaware Poetry Review, Salt Lick, the Baltimore City Paper, the Bhubaneswar Review, and other publications. He has written about popular music and theater for the Washington Post, New York Times, Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, Paste, Downbeat, and others since 1977. His book on Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A., was published in 2005.

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