Matthew Freeman: Pilgrim’s Progress/Into Outer Space
Image: Unsplash, downloaded (https://unsplash.com/photos/1X2HH9UITq0) 06.01.2023.
I thought I’d been cruelly kissed
and while I was right
I never could’ve anticipated this,
this intense and almost incredible
It’s what keeps me going back,
stuck, no time for me,
PTSD over a kiss.
And yes, so quiet when
someone sits next to me at MoKaBe’s.
How He Works
I chose the path
straight through hell.
It was at Pat’s,
over on Oakland,
somewhere during the early nineties
when I was drinking
a lot of Budweiser.
“You’re so full of shit,”
said one of my buddies.
“Well, watch your back,”
said a young Jesuit
who’d overheard everything.
And then I couldn’t
tell right from
wrong, or whether I was
a vampire, or especially
special someone at
MoKaBe’s could hear
I’m not sure if it’s because I replayed this at analysis,
or if it’s the Church’s Chicken,
or just all of my sad friends
here smoking with me on the patio
at Parkview Place
but I’m a whole lot clearer now,
and thankfully a little numb.
I’d been thinking
that I’d achieved a level of suffering
that I could understand, that I could deal with.
Well, I guess I’ll still have to take
that fairly large dose of Ativan.
This time Diana was about thirty feet away
when we were smoking on the patio
so I raised my arms as if to yawn
just to get her attention
and it came to be then
I was possibly signaling a crucifixion
so I got incredibly embarrassed
and turned away
and I was very shy smoking my guilty cigarette
and when I finished
I went to tell everyone goodbye
but Diana wouldn’t respond or even look at me
as I realized
she had interpreted my stupid gesture
as one of absolute horrible triumph
so I whispered her name
sure that she was going to get onto social media
and curse me
and then loudly Red arrived
to boisterously say hello
and straight-up asked Diana if he were too loud
and she was like, no, sometimes
I might look angry but I’m really not angry,
I’m never angry, you’re not too loud at all,
I’m cool, I’m just a quiet person.
I came out swinging. Okay, not
I was pressed upon, downtrodden,
and I merely sat there and took it.
An evil force entered into my consciousness.
I don’t have the means to call it
The sad poor Psychiatric Discourse
what it’s like to be struck
My first shrink has now passed and I’m free.
I know I’m alive because I can still feel
I’m seeing the presence open up
all about me again,
and there hasn’t been any time.
I’m not dividing everything up.
I’m reporting on things as they appear.
You might call it—not I—some pilgrim’s progress.
When my teeth were rotting in the wind
and I was walking the snowy icy path
from the 97 down to Café Ventana
in that Waterloo to finish school
it was as if my Whole were rotting too on a timer
and I had to hurry up and get the hell out of there.
So you can imagine what it’s like
to have beautiful clear dentures
and that long longed-for sheepskin.
You get to the point where you have to ask
whether it was merely allegory
or it actually happened
or some weird conflagration of both.
But then there is no one to ask.
It’s not like you’re going to join
the seminary at the age of forty-nine.
And anyway the Old Master said that
the literal is death. Though
I’m starting to think it might be life.
Whenever I’m at Starbucks with my buddies
we all try to talk to one another
but I personally
have to keep backing it up.
I’m so sorry for the annoyance.
It’s funny, my sister
thinks it’s that my hearing is going bad
but that’s not it, not it at all.
Like I know now for sure
I could never go into Outer Space.
About the Author: Matthew Freeman's seventh collection of poems, I Think I'd Rather Roar, is soon to be released by Cerasus Poetry. He holds an MFA from the University of Missouri-St Louis.