Columbia Crown.

 By Matthew Freeman.

“I went
upstairs and lit myself on fire and felt
nature decay there drooping dead in the
beautiful dusty old house and words
got screwed up…”

she by Kogiso Kyoko.

Back towards the tail end of my trying

as I was making my last gasp at Mizzou

I slowly began to notice

that when the autumn leaves were coming

down the usual

beautifully sad feeling didn’t wash over me

and the wind and the rain

left me nothing but numb

and I walked to class with a burning

guilt over having flunked out

of the most lenient school in the land

and I was weary and determined

to finish my degree at the incredibly old

age of twenty-three and something was off.




As I walked down Anthony Street

from my room in the

old beautiful sad house that I could

clearly see and not perceive

it occurred to me that in my backpack

was the thick Abnormal Psychology textbook

that I had recently bought

embarrassed and sweating in the bookstore

among kids who were supposed to be there

and wouldn’t it be sweet to sit and skip class

in the leaves and the grass by

the apartment complex and pore over the pages

and find my problem but every word was foreign

and I found no delight there, forlorn without affect.




I noticed a kid in Latin class who had

shaggy hair and wanted to be a lawyer

and his whole demeanor was calm and pleasing

and he smoked a lot of weed Oh that must be

what it is so I approached

the dealer as he drove by on Anthony

and nervously bought some marijuana

while a young woman from Structuralism

walked by suspiciously and I went

upstairs and lit myself on fire and felt

nature decay there drooping dead in the

beautiful dusty old house and words

got screwed up and I picked up the phone

and a police officer apologized for being on the line.




I was out one night in the rain

taking my original walk of shame

when crossing the street

became utterly impossible

and my heart was beating like a soughed bell

and I tried to go into the computer lab

but turned around and found

myself outside the emergency room

cupping my hand over my cigarette

like JFK and James Dean would do

whose names as they came up mocked me

and a casual nurse came out to smoke

beneath the overhang and asked

me how long it had been raining and I made

my first big revelation: Time is tricky.



I was curious so I walked to my cousin’s

apartment and it seemed as if

the forest on the way was full of terrifying orgies

so I asked a power-walker to call the police

and then my cousin grabbed my shoulder

and took me in and told me to talk to my sister

but when I got on the phone I heard the devil

and threw the phone and screamed

and my cousin drove me to the hospital

and I waited in the running car as he went in

and I knew nothing could stop me

from driving off in his car and going far away

maybe up to Chicago where my sister lived and

talk to her roommate but then they came and got me.




I kept trying to escape from the hospital in part

because they were trying to make my room

look like my room in the old house on Anthony

and in part because something was happening

with language and in part because the therapist

had said “…in order for you to get out of here…” to

a large group of patients and in part because

Jakob Dylan was on the cover of a magazine

saying, “It’s not so difficult, Matt,” and then

a young patient looked at me

and when her mother visited they gave me

some KFC and her mother asked if she could

anoint me and as the hot oil cascaded over my hair

I was caught up there guilty and implicated.




It was terrible

to come back to Saint Anthony Street

and see the pages of the books I’d ripped apart

and feel the cold wind coming from the

broken window and read

the wild treatise I’d written

on the primary process and Martin Luther

and somewhat clear and nervous

to sadly return to class

with only a threadbare notebook and cheap pen

and hear so many scary words echoing

like schizophrenia and psychotic break

and religious ideation, to carry those

words around and to leave class early.




I was back in my Father’s house

writing songs in the basement

and making creepy phone calls

to friends I hadn’t seen I years

and I was on three antipsychotics at once

and putting on so much weight

because my intuition said eat

and what could I do but follow my intuition

and there was still a crack

in the sliding glass doors from when

I had shot off my BB gun as a kid

and that was so remote there were

cobwebs everywhere now and dead meat

in the broken freezer and I could not leave.




I lay dreaming of the hospital

and again something came up missing

because I had left too soon crying

on the phone for my mom

to come and get me and sign me out

before they could raise me

and the guy who thought he was a vampire

or I was a vampire because

when they took my blood they failed

to put a band-aid on and then

they’d let me have the run of the ward

when I first came in and then separated

me and eased me into group therapy

but I couldn’t sit still and frenetically made the call.




And I remembered sad beautiful and numb

in Structuralism when Mary told me

about an open mic that night

and said “You need to go” and how

the gorgeous hunk said Matt just because

something’s true for you

doesn’t mean it’s true for me

and then Mary said she saw a therapist

and walked in and immediately cried

and I said I can’t cry bad things

keep happening but I just can’t cry

and I tried to leave class then but Mary

took me by the arm and brought me back because

there was still something I needed to decipher.

The Blood Pudding – July 1, 2021

Matthew Freeman’s latest book is called Ideas of Reference at Jesuit Hall (Coffeetown Press). He holds an MFA from the University of Missouri-St Louis and has moved from Dogtown to the Loop.

Artwork: Kogiso Kyoko studied oil painting at MAU Art University Graduate School in Tokyo. She has two children and she paints every day. She sometimes paints her kids. She loves them and she loves painting. You can find her and buy her work here.