Baptism by Firefighter

By Justin Jannise



How his hands smelled vaguely of soot

as he held them over my face

pinching my nose

and plunging me into a blackness


I will forever call humility.

How humiliating it was,

to perform the ritual of salvation

with a man whose touch turned me


to water. No man since

has prayed for me like that.




Justin Jannise is the author of How to Be Better by Being Worse (BOA Editions 2021), which won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Best New Poets, Best of the Net, Copper Nickel, Yale Review, New Ohio Review, and elsewhere. Recently a recipient of the Inprint Verlaine Prize in Poetry and a former Editor-in-Chief of Gulf Coast, Justin is pursuing his Ph.D. in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Houston.


He can be found online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and on his homepage.