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LOWING L A W S

THE WORLD NEW AND SELECTED POEMS

DON FREAS


LOWING SWAL

THE WORLD NEW AND SELECTED POEMS


LOWING SWAL

THE WORLD NEW AND SELECTED POEMS

BY DON FREAS

Lost Arts Design Olympia, WA


LOWING SWAL

THE WORLD NEW AND SELECTED POEMS

BY DON FREAS

Swallowing the World: New and Selected Poems Copyright Š 2015 by Don Freas All rights reserved No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in review, without the written permission of the author. www.DonFreasPoetry.com ISBN 978-0-9725074-6-2 Library of Congress Control Number: 2015904981 Cover and book design by Debi Bodett www.DebiBodett.com Printed in the United States of America First Edition Published by Lost Arts Design Olympia, Washington


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS A version of “Wild Love” first appeared in Portland Review; “Sketch” was previously published in Rosebud Magazine; “She is Almost” appeared in Bellowing Ark; and “Five Haiku” was published by Asheville Poetry Review. Many thanks to these and other journals and magazines that have published my poems. Several of my many teachers need to be named here—Robert Bly, for opening my ears and heart to poetry—and for asking for a copy of my first poem. Coleman Barks, for releasing Rumi into American English. Liam Rector, for being so completely Liam Rector; I miss you. Speaking of Liam—my eternal gratitude to the Bennington Writing Seminars: poetry, writing, and so much more. The convocations were truly transformational. I can’t possibly name all the characters and groups that have helped shape these poems through workshops, critique groups, and writing groups over the last 25 years. You know who you are. Your careful reflections have been greatly appreciated. Thank you. Fans of my poetry—you have no idea how much it means when you tell me what you like, respond openly to particular poems at readings, or write to point out how you have been touched by the poems. It can be such an isolating practice, alone with a pen and paper, or a keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, I love creating alone, but your comments, laughter, tears, and sighs—and the moments when I look up in the middle of a poem to find the whole audience listening in eyes-closed contemplation—with these you let me know something comes through. Thank you. Finally, and always, Debi Bodett—not only for making this book so beautiful for me, but for everything else. Thank you.

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CONTENTS Acknowledgments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii SECTION 1 Being Human Natural History. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Confluence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Whole Time. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kindling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . All That Remained, Still Singing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . After Dark. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kisstory.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reunion.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gatekeeper. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Before My Mother.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Taking Her Body. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Windfall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Burial.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Warmth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Out of Order.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Honor Thy Daughters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Shadow. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tragedy.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Race.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Contrition and Humility. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Whopper. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Being Multiple. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Swallowing the World. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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1 2 3 4 6 8 10 11 12 13 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 24 25 26 28 29 30


Section 2 / Waiting Room Reflection. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Waiting Room. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . After the Samba.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Out Walking to School. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cider Time. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pear Tree in Winter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sketch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Didn’t Happen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Renewal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fulcrum.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . At the Crossing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . To Make Rain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thief. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Her Response. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Being Tree. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Timing.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . She is Almost. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thanksgiving (Occupy This). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Infinite Form of Enough. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Five Haiku. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Persistence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Art of Learning. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Noble Tapestry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beginning of the End. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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35 36 38 39 43 44 45 46 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 56 57 58 60 61 62 63 64 65


Section 3 / In Place Solstice Report from Rain Country.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . As If These Were You. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pennsylvania Farm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Coming In.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Catkins. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Indian Plum. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . April. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . October Flood. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Between the Feet of Giants. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flood Warning and Fulfillment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Credo.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dancing All Night. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jungle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crow Call. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Temple. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Six Ridge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . In the Shop. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . York Narrow Tape. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The One You’re Using. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . After the Deluge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . In the Sangre de Cristo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wardrobe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Clothes Horse.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Warning. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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69 70 72 74 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 84 85 86 87 90 91 92 94 96 98 99 100 102


Section 4 / Traveler The Letter Comes Tightly Folded. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Through the Night. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Side Door. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Charge.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Motivation Technology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Heart is an Engine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Scrapyard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Scententia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Waking as if Alone. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Prodigious.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Falling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Switch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Some Assembly Required. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crosstown.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Half Made Whole. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Coal From Seams Under Water.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Weightless. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Safecracker.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Border Crossing.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Manhattan, a Primer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Handle Poetry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . On the Freeway Home. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wild Love.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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105 106 111 112 114 116 118 120 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 132 133 134 135 138 139


Section 5 / Now Raise the Sun. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Leaf. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . After the Past. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Angel.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . At the Sculpture Park. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wild Strawberries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Seventeen Sounds of Water Falling and Three Levels of Attention. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Commitment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Directive. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Trail the Children Know.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Exploration at Dusk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Second Nature. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dalliance.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Deadline. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Night Terror. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Awe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Listen to Autumn.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cards. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . All the Wrong Places. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Turn.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reading My Own Poems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Now.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 158 160 161 162 164 165 166 167


POETRY “To read Freas is to put on glasses that enable us to see the world clearly for the first time. Grounded in scent, texture, color, and wind song, these poems create a portal for the invisible to resonate through the visible. Direct as Rumi, subtle as David Wagoner, and intuitive as Robert Bly, this work immerses us in an intimate experience of nature, each other, and ultimately, ourselves.” —Tess Callahan, Author of April & Oliver “I am as struck by the uncommon generosity of the work as I am by the compelling tension between active engagement in the world and a Zen-like acceptance of things as they are. The poet’s language is musical, precise, often playful but always accessible. This is truly seeing and swallowing the world, something like what we used to call wisdom. Wander these halls and you’ll experience a truly generous mind at play—you may come out a little richer in spirit.” —Bob Hornbuckle, St. Louis MO “Swallowing the World offers an openhanded invitation—to delve, to pray, to see. The terrain of these poems is the human spirit, vulnerable and brave, bewildered and curious, and above all, loving. No guidebook or map available, we’re given the chance to wander freely the landscape of human experience, to recognize that the pebbles under our feet and the vast sky above us are equal.” —Linda Strever, Author of Don’t Look Away and Against My Dreams About the Author Born and raised among the old factory towns of the mid-Atlantic states, Don Freas arrived in Washington State in early 1972. In addition to writing and poetry, Don has decades of practice as a designer and craftsman in wood and steel, producing sculpture and furniture since 1974. He is a modern contemplative, who wrote: “We live in a culture overwhelmed with product-orientation and marketed identity. These obsessions obscure the fact that the true products of artistic practice are not the artifacts of that process, but the artists themselves.”

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