Cal Freeman

Note-Taking while Reading Gravity and Grace

To imagine nothing, place
baubles in the liar’s teeth.

The present is a flowering shrub.
The present is a woman’s face
in the screen’s glow.

Drink barium to illuminate
your insides prior to
extracting the troubled
organs of the self.

For ligatures to holiness,
expiate a fund. For returns,
cough on more dry air
until the dust becomes

as tasteless as the water.
To honor the dead, forget them.

To put a blank in brackets
for memory,
ape the many stones
the universe has scattered

at your door but do not learn
their names. One can never
be what one can accurately

Leave the innumerable planets
to gravity’s devices.

The future is a desiccated organ,
the present a salt barrel
where the butchered meat’s

Instructions for Shedding Your Name

For each pseudonym, set aside a crow.
Send the bird out into the winter
with a length of tattered string and a bald cry.
Say, “Two birds in the hand.”
Say, “If the good Lord’s willing.”
When writing in the spring,
do not speak of winter. Know that
the inverse rule does not apply.
For each silence, set aside an inoperable clock.
For each face of time, an emblem.
“When does a keeper of time
become an emblem of time?” ask.
For each forlorn straggler, set aside
a still green creek. Some will not speak
when spoken to; they will leave
the prattle to the crows. For each rookery,
set aside a blighted elm. For avian chatter,
a straggler’s sob story.

Epistle to the Innocent

But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.                                    — James Baldwin

Dear happy tenant, as the yellow house across the road
recedes into the night, their killing outpaces your intentions.
Dear Joy, Elation, Mirth, your dog carries a shadow in its teeth,
and your euphemisms do not recuse you. This light isn’t peculiar.
At no hour can the light be called “peculiar,” though we have
peculiar words for light: crepuscular, prismatic, refulgent.
Your shadow stands before them like a square mouth.
A throat clears, a sensor light goes off, radiating a blank
in your sight. Grace is the shape of light that isn’t cast,
a cloak the dead will never wear, so stop moving your feet, stop
localizing sin, especially in the hands. You can only reach
for what is in your reach. Your figure elongates into obscenity as you call
the animal back, ignoring its news about the dark. Go forth:
enumerate the bodies. Count your habits before the glowing wreath.

Cal Freeman was born and raised in Detroit. His writing has appeared in many journals including RHINO, Drunken Boat, New Orleans Review, The Journal, and Hippocampus. His firt book, Brother of Leaaving, was published by Marick Press. His chapbook, Heard Among the Windbreak, is forthcoming from Eyewear Publishing (London). He currently lives in Dearborn, MI and teaches at Oakland University.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.