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Basal Cell

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The sun is still burning in my skin
even though it set half-an-hour ago,
and Cindy and Bob and Bev and John
are pulling on their sweatshirts
and gathering around the fire pit.

John hands me a cold one
and now Bev comes into my arms
and I can feel the sun’s heat,
and taste the Pacific on her cheek.

I am not in Vietnam,
nor is John or Bob, because
our deferments came through,
and we get to remain boys
for at least another summer
like this one in Santa Cruz,
surfing the afternoons in a sweet
blue dream I’m remembering now,

as the nurse puts my cheek to sleep,
and the doctor begins to burn
those summers away.

Poem copyright ©2012 by George Bilgere, whose most recent book of poems is The White Museum, Autumn House Press, 2010. Poem reprinted by permission of George Bilgere.
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Basal Cell

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  • George Bilgere has published six collections of poetry, including Imperial (2014); The White Museum (2010), which was awarded the Autumn House Poetry Prize; Haywire (2006), which on the May Swenson Poetry Award; and The Good Kiss (2002), which was selected by Billy Collins to win the University of Akron Poetry Award. He has won numerous awards, including the Midland Authors Award and a Pushcart Prize. Bilgere has received grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fulbright Commission, and the Ohio Arts Council.

    Bilgere's poetry, while residing firmly in the every-day world of janitors, college students or siblings, is noted for its controlled poignancy and limpid free-verse line. Billy Collins has described him as “a welcome breath of fresh American air.” His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including PoetryPloughsharesthe Kenyon ReviewFulcrum, and the Best American Poetry series.

    A resident of Ohio, Bilgere lives in Cleveland, where he teaches creative writing...

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