Friday Poetry with James Goertel. The Rain Confessions

Friday Poetry with James Goertel. The Rain Confessions

THE RAIN CONFESSIONS from James Goertel’s new poetry collection, Under The Same Moon, offers a rambling diary of desire wet with remembrance

Friday Poetry with James Goertel. The Rain Confessions

A rain shaft at the base of a thunderstorm. Photo credit wikipedia


I. Make It Rain

Make it rain
and I’ll eat the mud,
spit confessions in the face
of a father forgetting his son
following in his footsteps,
swallowing his pride
with a handful of spiders,
dangling darkly,
overhead, overcast
at last the first drops
of mise-en-scene
that seem to fit
this blue mood
painted from memory,
spattering the dirt, the dust
of days before you were born
when we hung lust out
with our laundry
to whip as well in the wind,
seed scattered to the four corners
of a bedroom, painted red
walls soaked with perfume
and formaldehyde
to preserve the moment
as living proof that we were young
and full of life, boiling beneath
thin skins, fresh scars and
plaster of Paris hearts
beating in our chests
like the rain on this tin roof,
steel drum sound
drowning dreams,
stealing memories
you kept for a rainy day
waiting underneath a cloud.

II. Umbilical Memory

And you twisted my arm
because I couldn’t
save myself

(beating back the ocean with one hand)

panic coming in waves,
clutching at the myths
our parents reinforced
for one another,
never giving up the ghost
that wanders insecurities
floating in an open and amniotic sea
from the moment of conception,
a concept born,

umbilical memory

, the best and worst of us
pumped, primed through
ancient gill, lost limb remembered,
the blood of sympathetic amputation
separating us from air, from light, from death –

jigsaw puzzle of chromosomes and DNA,
dominant and recessive traits,
tributaries of dead ancestry carrying
red hair, brown eyes, cleft lips and chins,
longevity, crib death, genius, freckles,
Roman nose and Nordic blonde hair and blue eyes
down a river gently pelted by microscopic
genetic droplets, maternal and paternal
patter imprinted in our stream of unconsciousness,
in the imprint of our inked and unwashed feet.

III. A Cairn

All we have left is superstition and a stack of stones,
the petrified flowers of past civilizations, of past lives,
a cairn to commemorate the fears we conquered
while carrying rose petals in our threadbare pockets,
fool’s gold mined from skies holding rainbows,
the bridges between sun tongue rays and rain spit showers.

IV. Her Waters

swimming deep in a psyche drenched by thoughts of her
ocean –
quenching desert dry and wilting loins, a lion’s pride at her
oasis –
cleansing the filth of prurient desire from a gutter-lust for her

V. Where We Begin Again

High water rising,
I am risen
in the face
of familiar
me further
where the urge
to spawn
swells in rivulets,
the veins
and broken
blood vessels
carrying life
from the seas
upstream where
death dwells
in unfulfilled desires –

gut me on these rocks
if I cannot traverse across
as high waters recede
stranding me somewhere
between before and after the end –

break dams
wide open
and wash
the fish bone shell
of this man
where scavengers
stalk shores
waiting for the river
to give her gift
of life,
the remains of me
turning circles
in eddies,
turning cycles
where death is defied
in the shallows
where we began,
where we return,
where we begin again.

The baptism of the waters
we wade in.

The crucifixion of the rocks
we wither upon.

The resurrection of the rain
we wait upon.

VI. Slow Erosion

I do not fear death’s slow erosion –

my face carved into crevasses by the river’s slow crawl

my hair blown from grey to white by the wind’s cold shawl

my skin weathered and worn by the sun’s harsh sprawl

– as I disappear back into the dust
where bones become clay
and whisper at long last
their final confessions
to the falling rain. 


James Goertel. Under The Same Moon


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Born in North Dakota, James Goertel spent twenty years working in television for ABC, NBC, and ESPN, among many others in the U.S. He currently teaches writing at Penn State. Carry Each His Burden (2011) was his fiction debut. Each Year an Anthem (2012) was his poetry debut. With No Need for a Name (2012) and Self Portrait (2013) are his follow-up collections. His debut novel Let the Power Fall will be published in 2014.

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