2 new poems from Matthew Freeman

Religiosity

I've been corrupted! And now
they won't let me back in,
my childhood church,
the ground of my making.
All along I've been following my nose,
I never set out to ruin myself.
And I've done everything in my power
to control the narrative, to make it about recovery.
I never expected I'd say this
but I'm pretty much cool with most of the doctrine.

I mean, after I got the leather jacket
and a second wafer
magically materialized at communion
it didn't take long for me to realize
that the resurrection must be real.
I'm not out to subvert anybody!
It's clear to me that the answer is love--
even as I'm tainted,
even as I'm trying to come out of the shadow.
Believe me when I tell you: What I've heard is not my fault.

All I did was look into the breach
and see that something 
was wanting, something severe,
and the moment I broke away
from my father
was the moment I most closely
resembled him.
No matter. I've been living on next to
nothing.

Were Dionysus Forty-Eight

What a world it is when
you head out to Schnucks
in order to put some pennies into their
change machine
and you see a young woman in expensive exercise clothes
and then an old dude in a suit going into a bank
and it's not so much you want to be a part of it--
you don't, you really don't--
it's that by not being a part of it
you feel that you're a horrible human being.

For thirty years
I've been trying to build
a better burger. I haven't
gotten paid yet per se
but I think my time is coming.
Let's just say the Bacchae
have renewed their interest,
and now they're keeping a close watch on me
again.

Wolfpack Contributor: Matthew Freeman

A Poetry Showcase by Matthew Freeman

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Matthew Freeman

Wolfpack Contributor: Matthew Freeman

Matthew Freeman is the author of several books of poems, most recently Ideas of reference at Jesuit Hall (Coffeetown Press) and Exile (2River). He did his English BA at Saint Louis University, where he was twice awarded the Montesi Prize, and his MFA at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis, where he won the Graduate Prize in poetry.

A Poetry Showcase by Matthew Freeman

Taxed

And I’ve seen that it’s possible
to never come out of hell
and that any revisions that are made
are made in the rain.

I knew a guy at MPC on Delmar
twenty years ago now who with trembling fingers
would chain smoke
discarded cigarette butts he found
and whatever was going on in the sky
was contending in his own mind.
He was closer than I can explain.

Other patients would talk about him
and various rumors and reasons
for his condition were passed around.
I felt that they all fell flat.

I don’t know what could explain
the sheer dignity and unutterable grace
of someone so painfully and somehow
beautifully cast about.

There’s somebody somewhere
paying for every little thing that we do.

Repetition (in the Lacanian Sense)

I can write about orchards and vines
and I can write about the Greyhound and the Metro
and I can write about Orpheus going down 
or Red errupting when they
stole his Doritos

and now sometimes I feel like I've been walking
along the bottom of an ocean
for forty long years
with only the Beatles and Jakob Dylan
to comfort me
and how I'm ready to tap out of this wrestling match
but I can't keep the metaphors straight 
and anyway in kicks the Ativan
and we begin again. Okay, that's literal.

Something much greater than sex is going on.
My nurse thinks the Ativan is causing early onset dementia.
Look, I've been demented since day one.
It's only helped me making verse.
It's been about twenty-seven years
since I could tell you what I did yesterday.
Decades have passed since my community support worker
took me in because I'd taken a month of meds in ten days.

Yes, I know, I suspect 
I've already said all of this.

Forget Whitman

Ah, so it's the moon 
that's been influencing me.
All these years and I thought it was the sun.
What a fool I was !
I mistook being terribly uptight for stability.
I thought letters involved restraint.

I've been thinking a lot about myself
and what I've discovered is
that the structure of my negative symptoms,
the wonder wall,
is slowly coming apart.

I had a pleasant talk with an intelligent 
and amiable older woman today
and when I came home I felt safe and understood.
Maybe later when I put on the Bach some feeling will come.
Maybe I'll feel like going somewhere.
Maybe when I try to take a nap
I'll actually rest.

I'm becoming devout! My mind's still a little messed up
and I'm still writing poems all day with lots of cuss words
and I'm still cussing out the devil
and I'm down with all the forms of witchery 
but Christ is handling my dispossession
and Superman's going to sweep up all my symptoms
and throw them into the sun and then plant my flag on the moon.
Finally, dear Ladylove, it's happening!
The change in consciousness we talked about to change my stance.
There's a sign and it doesn't have to be a sign.
It's all about aesthetics and forgiveness.
Forget Whitman, John Keats is going to be my guide!   

Measured

By any sane stable measure
in the heavily belated
late liberal free neo-conservative
market,
I'm an abject failure.

People malign Little Marx
but without him and the mixed economy
I'd be dead meat. On a side note
I would mention 
that I might already be dead meat
because I think
my blood stopped flowing. But
that's for a different poem.

Maybe they should make social programs for
poets. Rotten teeth? Check. Afraid of sex? Check.
But without some capital there'd be no marginal 
friction. And regardless of
whatever psych evals they give
they still don't know where
poetry comes from. You can be a loud asshole
and write quiet poems. You can be
silent for years
and then come out with some 
bombastic revelations. I thank my good buddy
Chief, who remarked when I said I was a loser,
“Artists are held to a different standard.”


Witness

Everything's complicated but
I'm doing my best
to sort it out.

Okay, yes, I take a lot of meds and
they've kept me from completely
freaking out and having to hit the hospital.
But there's a grand fake edifice
being built behind me
and I'm starting to believe
that it might, in fact, be real.

As once at Barnes-Jewish
I said to the psych nurse, “So it's true.
The government is watching me.”
“But not in the sense you're suspecting,”
she responded.

But seriously, folks, let's not get
bogged down in the mire of semantics.
Some weird shit is going down
and I'm here to witness it.

My Discernment

My repeated trips
to the Underworld or the Wilderness
or whatever you want to call it
have in some manner left me
weakened. I'm not going to quit
doing what I'm doing but
it would be nice
to say I've learned what I needed to learn.

A huge breakthrough came
when I got up to leave my room
and somehow the door was already opened
and when I got to the elevator
it opened before I even pressed the button
and no one was on it
and my immediate thought 
was not that this was from the devil
but that it was a great
gift and wonderful sign 
from God.

What's to Love

I walk a little quieter when
little Enoch is around.
I have said that he is holy.
I know that you, dear reader,
would probably think
that he's clearly suffering
from some unknown
malady.

I can't tell you what we do here all day
but there is a structure to it.
There's a rhythm. You can call me the drummer.

Today I discovered a secret method
for rising out of hell. But don't tell anyone!
It's five hundred milligrams of Clozaril.
I think though I'm not sure that I'm the only one in the know.
Walking in the rain's different from looking out the window.

I arrive later at Tower Grove Park
with my notes
and continue to put down the penetrating paranoid vibe
and so, I can take part
in the psychotic discourse but
what's much more interesting to me
is figuring out those tulips and what's to love.


Loud Bell

Parkview Place has finally grown into my home
after only fourteen years
and I love my beatnik room
and last night on the patio I actually
was thinking
“eyeball” and “eyeball”
because I was noticing the beautiful lights
and the beautiful 70's architecture
and I felt some god was preparing me to roar

and I've slowly come to understand the presence of evil.
I've been so sick
and I just thought that everyone or everything
was sick as well.
I feel like I'm going to a wedding.
Somebody's about to give birth!
There's a beautiful spirit all about us
which is taking its shape in the brain.
Send this stuff to the true psychiatrist!

And speaking of trysts I'm wondering just where
Dr Valentine is now? You get so down 
and defeated and afraid
but you keep on fighting and after fourteen years or so
you enter 
into a positive transactional analysis 
and what freaked you out about everybody 
dissipates.

So don't dwell on that guy running rampant
throughout Manhattan so angry and unconscious 
and just at the beginning of picking up on language
because you know that loud bell eventually came to the fore.

Wolfpack Contributor: Matthew Freeman

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Matthew Freeman











A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Matthew Freeman

with Matthew Freeman:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Matthew: Oh, I was such a late bloomer! When I was about seventeen all kind of things happened at once, a friend telling me I should write down my wild manic stories, a young woman I loved who was always talking about Jim Morrison, and then my football coach introducing me to Dylan Thomas. But in a real serious class that started me off and had the most influence on me, I guess, we read the High Romantics and they’ve stayed with me quite a long time.

Q2: What are your biggest influences today?

Matthew: It’s really interesting and fun, ever since I’ve been involved with social media I’ve been introduced to poets from all around the world. I’ve heard new young poets from Africa and India and Ireland and England and they’ve all inspired me to keep going. I guess in a technical way, though, I’ve labored under the heavy influence of Gerald Stern. To me he’s like a post-Beat writer and I like that. Because, like almost everybody, I had my Beat phase too.

Q3: Was there a pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Matthew: Well! I had that friend who loved Jim Morrison so deeply…but all I’d heard from the Doors was L.A. Woman and I didn’t like it all that much. One day I was skipping school and having a few beers and thought I’d go up and see a movie. What was playing? That Oliver Stone movie about the Doors. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I walked out of that movie a poet. I guess there had been lingering inside me for many years a love of language and that movie somehow triggered it.

Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?

Matthew: My sister has helped me more than anyone– and she’s a poet too. We talk and talk about craft and influence and the state of poetry in our country and abroad. We have big disagreements on revision– it’s true still that I don’t revise too much. But we encourage each other and that means a lot.

Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?

Matthew: n/a

Q6: What do you consider to be your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?

Matthew: I think one of the best things I have done is called “Columbia Crown” and was published by The Blood Pudding. It’s a series of sonnets about a time when I was really trying to finish school– I’d had lots of problems—and started developing schizophrenia. Gone is any snarky or ironic attitude and each one is just one sentence. I think those are some of my most elevated poems.

Q7: Favorite activities to relax?

Matthew: I will tell you what I do– I have coffee every morning with some friends at Starbucks and read poetry and philosophy and theory in between our pleasant conversations. And I find that this too is a part of my process. And I have written lots about how I go behind my building with an iPod and a soda and have a cigarette!

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?

Matthew: I think I like lines of mine like, “To be this cute you must be destitute…” or, “I’m half a man without my Ativan…” I probably only remember them because they rhyme. I did steal a line of perfect iambic pentameter from Smokey Robinson and use it in a villanele: “A taste of honey’s worse than none at all…”

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Matthew: Look out for I Think I’d Rather Roar, which I’m hoping someone will pick up soon!

Wolfpack Contributor: Matthew Freeman

2 new poems from Matthew Freeman

Ideas of Reference at Jesuit Hall, by Matthew Freeman – Coffeetown Press

Exile: Poems by Matthew Freeman (2river.org) 

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