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Franzen’s “Freedom,” a Review in Free Verse

January 14, 2013

Franzen Freedom in Free Verse


Patty, you pirouetted freely on the floor

Of a baller gym trying to escape the still-hot embers

Of free love freely robbed from you

Honeybee rapes the flower,

Robs the honeysuckle of that which


Heaven gave, and though depraved

Men who claim your fealty, family

Fails to carry swords for girls

Carries water for criminals

With bigger dicks and wallets


Walter, frozen like a shallow pond

In Iron Ranging winter raging

Through your backwoods blood, the

Booze and smokes of the Bemidji men

Who tie the women down with drink and


Servitude. The weight of constant winter

Silent spring traps you in a world of must

Until you find a free spirit free love freely

Given in sattvic smiles saturated with

Sex and satisfaction. Shiva sweeps in


Swollen roadbeds slippery tar and loosened

Gravel thrown from truckbeds full to

Breaking broken coal soot whiskey

Fly Lalitha, fly love free for though

You came to this overpopulated


Planet poised to choke on smoke

City soaked with human sorrow

You found freedom, love to borrow

Wresting Walter from his chains

Of filial obligation now you’re gone


Children live, triangulated

Joey individuated

Wrapped in teen lust, still a boy

Coupled free of Mom and Dad

Grab that prize! Trash her later


Make connection, take that contract

Find a way to cop free stash and

Money by the hundred thousand

Find the stench of rotting blood

Turns you back, pay ill with good


Rock star Richard

Fluid rake

Will you take

Her mistake

Thrown like waste

In the face

Of the chick

Who would stick

To the pick

Your guitar

Travels far

From the heart

Of your Walt

Though you love him

You betray him

With your radar cock

you slay him

Sets him free

To love and lose

And grieve


Yet another, a girl who might redeem

Brokenness, the wretched weight of empty

Space between the fibers raveling.

Free from guttering smoky flame

Of family’s woven wick, Jessica,


Your mother’s calling,



You are my mirror. Cast the light

Where I fail, hebete presence, to shine.

Hurl spears for me. Then salve

The wounds I caused. Put the pieces of Patty


Back together. Walter’s birds, however fragile,

Can not rise or sing with their savior

Limned on a cross with









Free to be who we aren’t

Freedom’s never free

For the cost is the loss

Of who we are

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