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A Ski Hill

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Offseason at Mount Brighton, smooth jazz
Stylings of the Rod Piper Quartet. Chairs stalled
cruciform along the funicular on the hill
that mulls over seasons with silence
followed by contrapuntal clangs
and roars and clamors coming to life
in the dead season of snow makers and
swift downhill plummets.
The ride cymbal plashes through the measure
with a scrutable aptitude that leaves us
sad and listless; there’s a listlessness
to skiing when one has a love for it
as there is to this jazz; listless rigor and
unfounded belief in art’s transcendence;
balance, quad strength, I can’t explain
it but I believe it when it’s enacted
on a blistering high-gradient run.
A guy in chinos, an Izod windbreaker,
and a Titleist hat is saying “Montana
is the place to live for longevity.
There’s not much traffic there.”
Sheriffs and private security patrol
the hill, place of stacked bulldozed earth,
manufactured snow, indelible fertilizer
scent, the skull. The genre gorges on vapor
cooled to white morsels, packs it down.
Little figures hew to the ridge, and I wonder
what they’re listening to up there.

Cal Freeman is the music editor of The Museum of Americana: A Literary Review and author of the books Fight Songs (Eyewear 2017) and Poolside at the Dearborn Inn (R&R Press 2022). His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals including Image, The Poetry Review, Verse Daily, Under a Warm Green Linden, North American Review, The Moth, Oxford American, River Styx, and Hippocampus. His poems have been anthologized in The Poet’s Quest for God (Eyewear 2016), RESPECT: The Poetry of Detroit Music (Michigan State University Press 2020), I Wanna Be Loved By You: Poems On Marilyn Monroe (Milk & Cake Press 2021), What Things Cost: An Anthology for the People (University Press Kentucky 2022), and Beyond the Frame (Diode Editions 2023). He is a recipient of the Devine Poetry Fellowship (judged by Terrance Hayes), winner of Passages North’s Neutrino Prize, and a finalist for the River Styx International Poetry Prize. Born and raised in Detroit, he teaches at Oakland University and serves as Writer-In-Residence with InsideOut Literary Arts Detroit.