Volume III (Summer 2008)
ISSN 1934-4324

Franklin Freeman

Franklin Freeman is a writer living in Saco, Maine, with his wife and four children. He is a stay-at-home dad, has a BA and MA in English, and BA equivalent in philosophy (two years in a Catholic seminary). He is originally from Texas but feels very much at home in Maine.




“The tanks,” he said, pointing to the distant rolling hills,

“Came from over there, creaking.”

It was a beautiful fall day,

Crisp air, beaten blue sky, leaves afire.

We were in the small graveyard surrounded by the black wrought iron fence.

The cracked gravestones leaned, but were well-tended.

My wife translated her uncle’s story:


“Her brother” (he was speaking of his first wife)

“Fought against the Russians with the partisans.

They found his body, someone let her see it.

The Russians cut his heart out and crammed it in his mouth.”

Antanas wiped tears away with his farmer’s grimed fingers.

“She was never the same after that.

She could never get over it.”


I asked my wife what he meant and she said,

“His wife lost her mind and died young.”


We prayed, and the wind swirled

The leaves around us

In the graveyard in Rénava.


My father’s hands, as they turned the steering

wheel, fascinated me; the thumb-

nail flattened, the almost hairless skin, the new ring

he wore that meant he was not at home.

Instead I saw him weekends, every other,

In Galveston, where he drove me down

The block to the convenience store in a blur

Of anguished mystery soft and white as bone.



You, pipe in hand, smile with attentive eyes,

This memory of you feels within me.

I can taste the apple cider and pies,

Our talks were like the summer’s one cool breeze

That swung the front porch swing—I laughed, befriended.

We worshipped God together—I believed—but God

Left me when I left you; I feel no tendered

Welcome, tremble when I think it was fraud.

Perhaps I have no heart to give One enthroned

Above—can a boy give what is a man’s?

When is a person real, not just plain loaned

To the expectations of moving hands?

So the search for a lost host continues,

As I think of you and God leaves just clues.


When the time came to leave you now I know;

A winter chillness in the sun of spring

Entwined within the warmth, your words like snow

Dropped down, one and one, a numbing, cold sting.

Snow sharpened into slivers of curtained sleet.

Wave upon wave of silent-needle speech

Moistened with enigma melded—white heat

Stabbed my clumped earth, ran red with reach;

But so I learned to some one must be:

I became a bare cold street

A street paved against all intentions,

Blind or not, that gather like wet lead free

To suffocate inner barren regions.

Thus hardened, I watch sleet strafe the lamplight

Glisten in its glide down the glow of night.



Crazy Norman’s mouth twitches, he walks in circles

round the café while “Bolero” weaves the air.

I wonder who he’s talking to, what pictures

blaze within, how long must he pace and dart blank

mirror eyes, repeat rhymes and phrases, clipped words:

“Out there! Taking care!” he barks. On stage alone.


People gulp their coffee, leave, he’s too alone

for them, or like me they stare at the circles

of paper cups listening for what his words

mean if they . . . isn’t it weird, how much pain air

can bear, yet content you sip the creamy blank-

ness of days until the day you live pictures?


I’m dreaming of those days we frame in pictures

when the blues and golds find us no more alone,

we love and hate in a world dappled, not blank,

not like the pure white cliffs of pure white circles

where you swim in the brown waves, gasping for air,

looking up, groping for the rocks, for the words


that will save from drowning as if just the words

could, when what throbs behind the eyes are pictures

inside Norman’s head, projector of yellow air

through which the reel of dreams crackles alone.

He pokes and peers, smacks his lips; eyes are circles

that should look out, but his look in, so awful blank.


Like Norman I’ve walked long through a world of blank;

that’s why I’m drawn to his profound foolish words.

I’ve staggered, thinking, “Progress,” then seen circles’

familiar scenery—you tell by the pictures

repeating themselves, you watch the movie alone

while the dust motes float like islands in the air.



Norman ’s still talking when I breathe the cold air

outside (but he’s silent behind the glass) the blank

blue sky surges up to whiteness; I alone

stand where I stand searching for the lonely words

that will describe what we live through, the pictures

that, watched, chain us down, or, sung, flow from circles.


With this air I breathe, I will chant my pictures

blue, gold, and all alone, I’ll spin out circles

to those who hear my words, I’ll fill heart’s blank.