Freeman’s "Fight Songs" gives poetic voice to the unseen among us | Michigan Radio

Freeman’s "Fight Songs" gives poetic voice to the unseen among us

Jan 9, 2018

Poet Cal Freeman
Credit Shadia Amen

Cal Freeman’s newest collection of poems, Fight Songs, has nothing to do with ‘The Victors’ or ‘Victory for MSU.’ Instead, his poems are about unsung, little-noticed lives, about underdogs, about animals, plants, and nature.

Freeman grew up in Detroit. He won the Devine Poetry Fellowship and has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes in both creative nonfiction and poetry. He joined Stateside to talk about his new collection of poems.

Listen to the full conversation above, or read a poem from Fight Songs below.


A Jeep Wrangler looms

above the pitted lot

of the closed-down Chrysler plant.

Toledo’s emptiness is the one misnomer

that can bring the game birds back

to patchwork green spaces

sutured over post-industrial scars.

Toledo has towering blue spans

that cross the river

and a searing wind through trees

where the Maumee Bay

writhes in its torrent. Toledo

has gulls that cry like puppies

over produce tumbling

from the trucks at weekend market.

Toledo has a listless energy

that staggers through birdsong and hypodermic

needles in botanical gardens;

jackals, bamboo shoots

in the lairs of pandas at the zoo.

Storm doors with rusted handles

stuffed with health insurance offers,

handbills for pizza, epiphanic notes

blown out beneath a greening sky.

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