Friday Poetry with James Goertel: The Cartographer’s Heart

Friday Poetry with James Goertel: The Cartographer’s Heart

THE CARTOGRAPHER’S HEART from James Goertel’s bi-weekly poetry feature, Under The Same Moon, takes to the road.

Friday Poetry with James Goertel The Cartographer's Heart

A map of the southwest coast of Ireland created in the early 18th century. Notice the north arrow at the bottom of the map. Also, colors are used in the map to distinguish different geographical areas. Photo credit: wikipedia


Mile after mile,
Year after year
With no one riding shotgun,
With no one riding passenger side;
Not fear and loathing, but fear and living
While driving a lifetime across state lines

Hot, vinyl jumpseats in the back of a
Country Squire station wagon;
Sandusky, Ohio –

A Star Wars paperback bought at an
Esso, full-service gas station;
Minnetonka, Minnesota –

Blowing the carbon out of a ’65 Impala
While pushing 100 between wheat fields;
Mandan, North Dakota –

Gone-west-young-man amidst
Physical graffiti marking canyon walls;
Malibu, California –

Stanching the cocaine binge bloody nose
While nodding off behind the wheel;
Breezewood, Pennsylvania –

Stuck in humid, 4 a.m. traffic after
Out all night at a gentlemen’s club;
Buckhead, Georgia –

Dropping off a dancer on The Strip
Before heading west toward Death Valley;
Las Vegas, Nevada –

Dead marriage in a rear view mirror
Along with I-95’s funereal procession of cars;
Boston, Massachusetts –

Grey April rain’s pain(t) across a windshield
Wiper rhythm’s pacemaker keeping me alive;
Cuba, New York –

Your soft, cold hand warming my heart
While driving over the Peace Bridge;
Niagara Falls, Canada –

How was I to know
All roads led to you?


James Goertel. Under The Same Moon


View Comments (4)
  • Title is suggestive: The Cartographer’s Heart… but James Goertel’s poetry is powerful. Thanks, James

  • Thank you, Yareah Magazine!

  • Ali

    Amazing poem. I understand the cartographer’s heart – I think most poets have one?


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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