AJA by James Goertel at Friday Poetry

AJA by James Goertel at Friday Poetry
The three musicians, Tomb of Nakht, Thebes

The three musicians, Tomb of Nakht, Thebes


I never learned to play the saxophone,
never knew until now
marriage was as much mathematics
and chemistry as romance;
the counting of years on an old abacus
until they numbered seven
when I began breaking mirrors.
Hong Kong seems like a lifetime ago
though there are memories
of the sound of mahjong
in heavy, angular air hung with
insect dissonance and geometric bamboo;
somber nights spent dancing in Macau nightclubs
with women wearing numbers pinned to their blouses;
disorienting mornings perfumed by the scent of lotus
and the stench of livestock being butchered alive
in alleys strung with paper lanterns.
I hummed myself to sleep back then, back there,
half a world away from my mother tongue
and the bad luck to come, impatient for my return
from a land of experience unclouded by reference
and which I wandered
carrying only John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’
to stanch the ardor I held for her
waiting in Occident on a distant shore but not for me.


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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