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Matthew Freeman: In the Medium

Image: Unsplash, downloaded ( 01.8.2021.

Wrong Places

The disorganization of the senses

is recurring quite gently

and naturally. Sometimes I find myself

in the middle of the night

locked out of my room with no shirt on.

I have to sleep on the couch in the basement

until the maintenance guys come.

It’s really a great big allegory.

Then the old criminal feeling comes back

to connive me into sorrow

as Bruckner says Let’s get a drink

and I argue that I’m a raging alcoholic

and he says Oh you’ll drink again

and the flowers in my room are fake

and the clock is going wild

and here:

Hellhounds are on my tail.

And that’s a statement completely outside

of the medical discourse. I wonder what

a cognitive behavioralist would make of it.

They couldn’t tell me to turn my demons into angels.

They have no method of incorporating such parole.

Maybe I need to consult a blues singer.

Maybe I’ve been hanging out in all the wrong places.

Stuff to Deal With

I don’t need to be any good with metaphor.

I say again when I left my father’s house

to copy poems at the In and Out

a pit bull was straining at the leash

and trying so hard to get at me

that his young owner could barely restrain him.

Then I saw a tall guy walking

with completely flat body language

and wearing big black sunglasses

like the ones I have

which you can only get

if you’re a psych patient.

I may have seen too much but it was all gravid.

Here at Parkview Place

Red finally freaked out when the desk worker

refused to respond to his entreaties of innuendo

so he punched a great big hole in the glass

and tried to reach in and the cops were called

and he took off and got brought down by a K-9 unit.

Well! I write this on the verge of senility.

I’m never going to die. Once a cop suggested she and her

cohort take me down the hill and beat my ass. That was

thirty years ago. Now when the cops ask me about Red

I say I could see this coming, coming from a mile away.

When You’re Every Person in the Poetry

Whenever I’m reading something

I get the feeling

there’s something I’ve missed.

Maybe I’m resisting.

I thought God

had burned all the fight out of me.

We’ve come to the end of something. Again.

Don’t get me wrong—

I still love everyone and everything.

It’s just there’s no hop in my step and I’m stuck here.

If I ever get a message to go

maybe Chief and I will drive downtown

to embrace the sublimity

and give my wallet to the first vagabond we see.

I used to think I had to know every single philosophy.

But seeing a cardinal alight on a fence is all I need.

Now my nurse wonders if I’m writing.

I can’t complain when I’m the one

who asked for authority. I was born

into this system where the world

isn’t with me at all, and I have to stop

reading things before I get too flooded

with leeway. I’ll say all this to my dear

lawyer and bond trader at coffee in the morning

and ask Ladylove what he thinks

God wants me to do.

Friend Request Sonnet

While I’ve been slogging through the same old shit—

the death of metaphysics and the death

of all epistemology—I quit

the news and take a big deep breath

because now it’s impossible to know

what everyone should know and anyhow

it’s just some people talking on some show

and one’s the same as any other now

in this deluded climate. But I did

send out a friend request to someone cool

and seemingly well-read and hip

and now I feel like the biggest fool

for reaching out in this tattered heap

for all I got’s my name and now it’s cheap.

I’m Supposed to Go Somewhere and Say Something

Everybody’s, like,

really interested in psychosis.

They don’t want tales of anhedonia

and flat affect, they don’t want

to hear about the absence of the spirit.

My first move was a renunciation

of death-in-life,

a murder of manilla folders

and brutal industrial clocks.

So began the destruction of my self.

I never wanted to be like my pastor,

showing up early

and taking his walk, drinking his coffee.

Today when Diana got off

the elevator I had to cough.

You see that it was an act of dispelling.

And now at Parkview Place something’s wrong with the procession.

One minute I’m having coffee

and trying to impress Ladylove. And then

I’m having my last smoke in the shadows wondering

if the couple across the lot can see my hopeful stare.

I can’t really move. Everything’s like looking

In a window blurred by rain. I’m in the medium.

About the Author: Matthew Freeman's latest full-length collection is Ideas of Reference at Jesuit Hall (Coffeetown Press) and he holds an MFA from the University of Missouri-St Louis.


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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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