April 2020 Poetry Feature: Poems from John Freeman’s THE PARK

This month, we’re happy to bring you poems from JOHN FREEMAN’s forthcoming collection, The Park, out on May 5th from Copper Canyon Press.


Cover of John Freeman's "The Park," a black and white photo of park benches and trees

Table of Contents:

  • Easement
  • Ghost
  • Youth
  • Halfway
  • On Love
  • The Politician


John Freeman is the editor of Freeman’s, a literary annual, and author of the poetry collections Maps and The Park, as well as three books of nonfiction, Dictionary of the Undoing, The Tyranny of E-mail, and How to Read a Novelist. He has also edited three anthologies of writing on inequality, including Tales of Two Americas and Tales of Two Planets, a new book about global inequality and climate change, forthcoming from Penguin. The former editor of Granta, he lives in New York, where he is writer-in-residence at New York University. The executive editor at Lit Hub, he has published poems in Zyzzyva, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The Nation. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages.

April 2020 Poetry Feature: Poems from John Freeman’s THE PARK

Love, Under a Falling Sky



Say Chicken Little was right, that the sky 
is falling. What I want to know is,
will the moon fall too? Will it bounce softly 
like swiss cheese, or will it crumble
like a stale cookie? Do skies bruise? 
Do they ache? And is the sky
a metaphor for all the ills and evils 
of the world? A testament
to how the earth can only hold so much 
pain and grief? But why
would God send a chicken? Would you listen 
to a chicken? Is the chicken a metaphor 
for Jesus? Did the Bible mention this 
and somehow I missed it? Is this because
in 6th grade my teacher made me promise Jesus 
my virginity in a gift basket? Actually, if the sky falls,

Love, Under a Falling Sky

Modern Gods



Backlit by the glow
from a small passageway,
he kneels into the fog
of yellow light,
head kissing the carpet.
I step around him,
respecting his privacy, when 
the mat becomes not prayer 
rug but builder’s tool,
a black piece of tarmac, laid down
before the bank so he could
peer close, fix the dead 
motion sensor so that people 
with money could 
be seen, all doors opening
for them.

Modern Gods



It was the first time I’d lived
with a man, and I wanted him

to translate the name of our street.
He was holding my cold fist

in his own, and we were on
Ofrandei, in the middle of unpaved

Bragadiru, Romania, on our way
home. It’s something you give

to get something—like a sacrifice.
Like what you do for a god.


Silence of The Lambs: A Starling Is Born


All his victims are women…
His obsession is women, he lives to hunt women.
But not one woman is hunting him—except me.
I can walk into a woman’s room
and know three times as much about her as a man would.


A starling catches me in a dress
and pierces my chest two times,
deeply, and I cannot blame her.

Silence of The Lambs: A Starling Is Born

Waiting on Forty-Five (A Ghazal)



and then I remember the faint aching hiss of nitrous leaking from the tip of the siphon into the open mouth of me

a hit off the pressurized cream of me

in the darkened storage room round back of the restaurant of me

at twenty-one, the different sounds that rustled in me

freezer hum and thudding voices, conversation concentrate inside of me

who I used to be, was then and then and then: still me

Waiting on Forty-Five (A Ghazal)