Sunil Freeman



Aquamarine and white squares
ruled off by silver bars
gone to gray; what might have been
Mondrian fades into something
Hopper could understand.

In another universe
the stars on the sign
might twinkle neon stardust;
here they look like asterisks.

I see the dancers and know
there must be music. They waltz,
perhaps so deep in Strauss
it could be Hershey's Syrup.

They twirl to the window
like goldfish rising
to catch light and grace it
with one muscular moment.
Beige curtains frame the picture;
they might be lily pads.



The Mall, Washington, D.C.
February, 1992

Sunshine does its old Vermeer embrace,
washing over the flats to the west.
It highlights a long touchdown pass,
then rolls back to catch the whole field
and bathe both teams till they might be
the first Olympians. The light rides
on shafts of its own finding, little ripples
over the grass, a beam that slants
and cuts like a halfback. I watch
this wanton grace, and then the tourists,

who see with eyes of pilgrimage
as they climb the slow incline.
Their chatter highlights the hush
that enfolds us inside the ring road
at the summit, the monument's base.
We all look to clouds that circle
the landscape. There should be chords
humming deep in those cumulus hearts;
they ride a wind that shatters
around us into bright metallic clicks
inside the crackling of flags.

To the east, a thin black man plays
a pop tune lifted from the Andes.
His flute is a marriage of gray and silver
that's echoed by his tin can,
and by the quarter that flares,
briefly, then softens, shyly,
as it leaves a stranger's hand.


Sheila Rotner
The Active Door,
1990, acrylic on canvas, 92 x 87 inches

see more of Sheila Rotner's work



The senses are primed to jitterbug
with the things of the senses so I turn

off the lights, crawl into bed,
burrow under a quilt, bring my knees up,
fetal, and close my eyes.

Time forgets to spin itself out.
Nothing but colors and sounds

and something important, maybe my soul,
flowing in and out of a tooth
(three left of the left incisor)
like solar flares.

Sounds and dot patterns spin fugues
that shoot from the center of that tooth,
then zoom back into my mouth.

I'm in outer space. There's something
attached to my foot. Oh!
It's the earth.



God's maracas, tiniest staccato ticks
piled so thick they go all curvy,
backwash and cross rhythms

till it's white noise that keeps
coming on. They all speak one tongue
(or leg twitch) I suppose, but together

it's Babel. I let the dizziness come
over me, then my ears mosey around
in the spin until they find hints:

tremors here, fault lines there;
they insinuate shapes in the warp
and weave. The street man

squints and stops and turns
then spins fast to glimpse
the dance in all that rattle.

He cackles at the sky; I don't
shy away. I've heard the shapes;
if they could all line up

just right--not quite diamonds,
poly-somethings--I'd coax them,
like zippers, and pull.


Sunil Freeman is the author of two books of poems, That Would Explain the Violinist (Gut Punch Press, 1993), and Surreal Freedom Blues (Argonne Hotel Press, 1999). He has lived most of his life in the Washington, DC area, except for a few years in India, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Freeman has performed with Jim Henley and M.A. Schaffner in Men Without Drums, a poetry trio formed in the early 1990s. He has a degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and works at The Writers Center in Bethesda, MD.

Published in Volume 1, Number 2, Spring 2000.


To read more by this author:
Sunil Freeman: The Wartime Issue
Sunil Freeman on The Writer's Center: Literary Organizations Issue