Two Poems by Cal Freeman

by: Cal Freeman

Cal Freeman is devoted to paying attention “because each moment is an irrevocable act.” Everybody knows this is a basic fact of life, yet we are lulled by dreams, by forgetting, and by distraction. Freeman’s poetry offers a model corrective. In it, noticing, remembering, and transcribing the world and the poet’s experience of it are all salvific acts which we participate in when we read. 


The Answer To Your Question Is, “When The Transformative Powers Of Failure”

are completely overblown, each ephemeral resurrection is subject to the planned obsolescence of a timing belt. Rumors of Marlowe’s later life in Italy, the way a knife in the eye sounds too poetic to be true in any other sense. When the actor died with the needle in his arm last Sunday, it felt like loss. Maybe because he was not a self-parodic brand, or because when he huffed gasoline in Love Liza and the appliances began that hyperbolic whoosh, he brought to mind a friend who used to stick a length of garden hose in a Chevy Nova’s tank and breathe until collapse. How he would wake up, describe the dream, and go again. Because “needle in his arm” sounds too easy, because each moment is an irrevocable act, a mind’s scattershot longing, an eye, a wizened yellow moon.”


The Answer To Your Question Is, “Bitterness, With Spinning Wheels”

A moth outside the window flutters
like a baseball card in spokes. Bicycles sail
down walled avenues in sheets of rain.
The city, though macadamized beyond

the floodplain’s ability to function,
wants to swallow your bicycles
and disgorge them, wants to stake more
metal to the the Tedrow loam that tables

the runoff high and buckles pavement
squares. Take the felled water tower
in the gravel pit rusted out
and dented like a hat. Take the runnels

snaking into the pool of sewage beneath
the overpass, copper piping of the pump-house
stripped away by scrappers unnoticed
until the deluge. These latest regurgitations

come from a brand of dining no pedaling
will extirpate from our happy flesh.
Above the bumpers of boat-like Cutlasses
and Cougars rest forward-facing eyes

that hunt the night. Good night, old ghosts
billowing blue smoke. Good night, soaped
serpentine belts waiting like owls to screech.
I’ll hear you hydroplaning in my sleep.


Cal Freeman’s writing has appeared in many journals including Commonweal, The Cortland Review, The Journal, Passages North, and Hippocampus. Freeman was the recipient of the Howard P. Walsh Award for Literature, The Ariel Poetry Prize, and The Devine Poetry Fellowship (judged by Terrance Hayes) and has also been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in poetry and creative nonfiction, as well as Best of the Net and Best American Poetry. Freeman’s collection, Brother of Leaving, was published by Marick Press, and his chapbook, Heard Among the Windbreak, was published by Eyewear Publishing (London).

0 replies on “Two Poems by Cal Freeman”