Friday Poem with James Goertel. Today: Most of the Time

Friday Poem with James Goertel. Today: Most of the Time

MOST OF THE TIME from James Goertel’s bi-weekly poetry feature, Under the Same Moon, for your Friday poetry fix.

Friday Poem with James Goertel. Today Most of the Time

Friday Poem with James Goertel. Today Most of the Time


Most of the time
the old man inside of me
can no longer outrun his soul,

desires a dark room
where thoughts are free
to move among the stars,

wants a good woman
to know his heart
is a fragile thing

which remembers more than
she believes,
is but a glass bulb

blown from her lips,
filled with her warm breath,
absent its own blood,

beats a hollow drum
beneath a chest no longer
lifting, falling, lifting, falling

in defiance of death
to fill a life
with sheer bravado

now become but a conflation
of first breath’s
desperate gasp to simply survive

and the numbered breaths left
astrology cannot know,
nor alchemy can change

for the old man inside of me
shuffling back and forth
across the length of the attic floor

above this bedroom,
rummaging moldered, cardboard boxes
for Kierkegaard, King James, and Gibran

to make sense of what is left
as I dream below
in only broken English or mise-en-scène,

adding just
meaningless narrative and jump cuts
to an incomplete catechism

written partly
in the sun christened, godforsaken hours
of day after day, decade after decade,

partly in the dark of devil-may-care sleep
where I startle awake saints
to ask them my name,

uncertain anymore
and waking myself shaken, unsatisfied, 
and unable to remember their answers

and left with only
the three same childhood prayers
to plead for one more day

with a good woman
who, like I, is but flesh and bone,
her face as aged as mine,

but her heart still beating
strong enough for both of us
most of the time.

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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