All I Have, Have Not Become. 100th Poem by James Goertel!

All I Have, Have Not Become. 100th Poem by James Goertel!

ALL I HAVE, HAVE NOT BECOME by James Goertel – the 100th installment of his poetry feature for Yareah Magazine.

All I Have, Have Not Become. 100th Poem by James Goertel!

All I Have, Have Not Become. 100th Poem by James Goertel!


Increasingly, I find it hard to live with myself

A book of angels tucked under a broken arm

Discordant, atonal humming in my head

Selfish self preservation shadows a weary gait

Dreamers casting doubts at my feet, dreams casting doubts into my sleep

Alcohol has become dubious courage not to be counted on

Smoke lips carry nicotine kisses for everyone, for no one

One hundred years of living weighing down fifty of trying to stay alive

Homemade x-rays capture a wilt of roses and the missing rib

Cancelled postage accompanies poems never sent to a dozen lovers

Supposed post-modernist belying a primitive and his finger paintings

A speed bag heart, a bell for a soul, another round for a punch drunk

Phengophobia and night terrors, dawns indistinguishable from one another

Orobas listens only for my last breath, leaves all my questions unanswered

Bar Kokhba’s legacy in a Cave of Letters, mine adrift in a dying sea

St. Christopher carries a child across swollen waters, leaves me behind

Sabotaging carnal desire with gnostic prayers

My own religion built of branches, bird feathers, and ten thousand dusks

Kicking five thousand years of civilization to the gutter

Wax hands, fingers lit to light the way, to wick away the darkest days

Son sleeps beneath a moonless sky, I brace for impact, the sun unhinged

Television conversations held at bay by the simple refusal to speak

Puzzled not why Van Gogh cut off an ear, but why he left the other

Sideways glances into a mirror find a face shaven, unshaven, disappearing

I no longer walk this world, sit inside myself instead

Trees fall outside, a reminder of mortality cached along with birthdays

Green grass against gray skies as emotional as anything I have lost

Tidal blood, wind driven tears, snowbound senses conspire

December on my breath through June

Relatives and friends become the decades’ strange currency

Empathy is a luxury left behind to rust in another season of spring rains

Dead bees and absent bats keep my secrets safe

The book half written, half unwritten details a lifetime of distractions

The sound of train whistles more familiar than most names, faces

Feeling at home, lost and chasing migratory birds down unmarked roads

Random acts of unkindness undermining the best of intentions

The letters of an alphabet I employ constructed from only lies I tell myself

My prayer books gathering dust, but not my hymns to her

Love conquering all I have, have not become in spite of, despite myself


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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