THERMOS 9: Matt Freeman

Matt Freeman is an anchor for St. Louis’s independent poetry community, teaching, mentoring young punk rockers and starry-eyed students, and starring in the town’s many small reading series. He’s published five books, most recently Boulevard of Broken Discourse (Coffeetown Press). I’ve never seen him read without a Cardinals cap on. -JT

You Call It Bondage

I’m just a bunch of mud
that God’s breathing through–

I was having a cigarette
outside of triage
with the calm hippy nurse
when she suddenly asked me,
eyes ablaze,
how long it had been raining.

“Death is only a failure of the imagination,” I said.

I got out of there as the wind
picked up, marking a gradual diminution
of power and the weakening I-Will,
I did or did not put out my cigarette,
I was either supposed to look back or not,
I remember that this was very important,

when the bus went by
this guy–scratched his neck–
I was doomed–I got the signal–

but the wind was gentle and inexorable,
there was no one I had to worry
about matching my rhythm,
it was just me and the payphone,
I didn’t even have to pick up the receiver,
fake it till you make it, I said,
this is your first dream,
here comes the wind, no worries, no wages.

Of the Educational Variety

There was nothing more to be done with me once
I’d begun claiming I was Cuchulain,
mirroring the nurse’s Irish accent.

Somewhere deep in Forest Park was the girl with rays
of light coming out her eyes, the transcendental
bum who hid his mattress in the copse, my
shoes were filling with mud and water,
I was shocked by a mocking image of Lesbia
kissing two guys by the statue of Saint Louis,
Diana sat on the steps of the Art Museum with
a crushing sexual sneer. My heart raced, I was
a chubby dark-haired kid with all kinds of laurels.
Unable to read the clouds, I made it to Del Taco:
No service at the drive-thru without a car.

Back home through the hallowed basement
and up to my top floor, disorganized,
shit all ripped up in the primary process,
the only order being
a bottle of wine and loaf of bread on the window sill.

Breaking and Entering

Heavy-feathered, Bruekner having bought the tabs,
sixteen years old and affect still
in the glowing dark and breaking outward,
Bruekner bangs the wheel and says
Nothing’s happening Matt, nothing’s happening,
it is a neon moonscape admonition now,
compensation for the feeling of flight and
a cop pulls up we’re behind Ruby Tuesday at 2 a.m.
Bruekner tells me tell him we were talking about girls,

and I have to enter the rear seat of a squad care
with all that dashboard shit shining
looking for the breaking-apart and recuperation,
receive an astral panic curfew ticket,

back in the Daytona Bruekner says you’re
not crazy unless you rip that
ticket up and toss it and as I do we turn
onto Lindbergh having come up strange

and later looking at breasts in a magazine
call Chad and have him call us a shrink
lying quietly in each other’s arms
“you boys keep it quiet down there”

and hear whispers in the hot morning shower
every sensate quantum, plumb the lux,
it was a miracle we’d even fallen asleep,
not far out, not groovy, darkly
burdened now with brooding illumination.


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