Monday 11 November 2019

3 Poems by Geoffrey Himes


I can forgive her,

but can I forgive myself?

After all, I didn’t make her choices,

but I did make mine.

I run the beads of my mistakes

through my pale fingers,

but I keep losing count.

Was that twenty-five or twenty-six?

She wore a black-lace mask

to the New Year's Eve ball

in the stone house on the hill

surrounded by deep snow.

We were open to a second chance.

We were willing to forget the past.

We were wanting to dance.

We were waiting for the music to begin.

But the musicians got lost.

The electricity went out.

The candles burned down,

and we drifted into different lives.


By February, we weren’t speaking,

left to guess at each other's feelings.

Our eyes were red and watery.

The doctor said flu, but we knew better.

Should we try to jump-start the old car,

which had betrayed us so often?

Or should we write, “Thanks for everything,”

as a final, brutal farewell?

True to our indecisive selves,

We had done both: push and pull,

sleeping with each other's acquaintances,

weeping in each other's arms.

Greenmount Avenue was buried in snow.

I put on knee-high rubber boots and stepped high,

determined to reach Twenty-Fifth Street

before the chicken soup in my belly turned cold.


We climbed the beehive mountain

built of green bricks, blue mortar.

The trail twisted its measuring line

along cliffs, across streams

till our heads finally poked

above the chai tea mist

into the lemon light.

How far we could see

past the softened valley

to the boxy cities beyond.

Oh, how joyful it was

to once be young.

Oh, how terrible it is

to now be old,

our hearts too broken,

too blocked up with salts,

to take to the trail again.


Geoffrey Himes’s poetry has been published by December, the Delaware Poetry Review, Salt Lick, the Baltimore City Paper, the Loch Raven Review and other publications. He has co-written songs with Si Kahn, Walter Egan, Pete Kennedy, Billy Kemp, Fred Koller and others.  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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