Poetry from Cal Freeman

Read More: A brief interview with Cal Freeman

Walter Benjamin’s Instructions for Touring the Berlin Zoo

 If no animal possesses the auratic limn
of its earthly name, it isn’t enough

to mutter, “gloaming,” and find
a bitter spirit in a tavern

just coming to life.  If “Mark-Talle”
is “Markt-Halle” eroded out of

habit, call this “ideology”
or “ghetto granted in fief”

or “lair of the cult of nothing.”
As you watch toy men carry

pick axes down pit cages
in the dull grey afternoon,

as you churn in city guts
and gutter toward home,

you are less mammalian
than you were at daybreak.

If the banality of not finding
your way in this polis

polygonal as a hippo’s mouth
daunts you at first,

call this feeling “history” or
“illimitable horizon.”

Do not follow Ariadne’s
string but splint the hybrid’s

mouth and exit through those
gates where droshkies rattle

brittle ribs and a brass band
lauds recumbent beasts.



At the Station of the Two Thieves

One stained glass
pane at a time,

one stone shifted
in increments

measured out like
missives against time.

The ticking of the walnut
castle clock,

the weather the corpse
must’ve wandered

into, the tick of rain
against the window.

You dreamt of being
crushed beneath

a prayer kneeler
by a priest while I

dreamt of walking
our dead dog through […]

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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). He 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). Freeman’s book, Fight Songs, is forthcoming from Eyewear Publishing in the fall of 2017. Cal regularly reviews poetry books for the program, ‘Stateside,’ as part of Michigan Public Radio’s Michigan Books Project.

Read More: A brief interview with Cal Freeman