Cal Freeman

Self-Portrait as a Straw Man Rowing in Place

Round Sails by Vasko Taškovski

Not ceaseless boats but coxswains sculled with Tacitus’ conclusion
that we must eschew comfort to accomplish anything of worth—
freighter ballast teeming with organisms of everywhere from
nowhere: water fleas, mussels erroneously named. I’d argue

that the sky is blue except when it is a monochrome grey except
when a cirrus white. That there’s nothing autumnal about canaries’
wings, but the honey locust leaves’ rebuttal goes canary-yellow just
before they peel from their petioles to die. Vague face in black water.

My recall of titling conventions is shot, so I italicize the names
of all hypothetical future works: Chairlift of Her Dotage, EA Abbott’s
Book on Autumn… I’d argue the eyes of TJ Eckleburg have been
blinded by the glare of North America on the face of The Unisphere,

a geographically-precise sculpture gone vague with afternoon sun.
Kennedy’s dream dead on its perihelion tilt, the self a series
of mixed metaphors we spend our lives failing to embody:
hunched biped, Flushing Meadows, speck in a long descent.


About the writer:
Cal Freeman is the author of the book Fight Songs. His writing has appeared in many journals including Open: Journal of Arts and Letters, Terrain.Org, The Journal, The Cortland Review, PANK, Southwest Review, Rattle, and Hippocampus. Freeman is a winner of the Devine Poetry Fellowship (judged by Terrance Hayes) and Passages North‘s Neutrino Prize. His writing has also been nominated many times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. His poetry collection Poolside at the Dearborn Inn is forthcoming from R&R Press in 2022. Cal Freeman currently serves as a Writer-In-Residence for Inside Out Literary Arts Detroit.

Image: Round Sails by Vasko Taškovski. No medium specified. No size specified. 2011. By free license courtesy of Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts.