Freebird mixes up registers and juxtaposes details to build up a picture of a hot summer’s day in a squalid part of town. It begins with a quote from DH Lawrence – “One forms not the faintest inward attachment, especially here in America” – which leads me to believe that the poem must centre around the detached, observer-narrator.
The poem begins with girls tanning themselves around a swimming pool, as if we’re in a holiday resort, but it soon becomes clear that the pool is a curious anomaly and the tanning is happening in “Stranglers’ weather”. The birds flying overhead are “mockingbirds” (no accident surely). The place smells. People mentioned include a tattooed con man and an anguished pest control man dealing with cockroaches.
Two phrases struck me. The first is “I was cuntstruck and fat.” That’s obviously meant to be noticed! It comes out of the blue. In this poem, the narrator looks at the tanning girls, hears a young couple making love in a flat above and the loud blast of Lynyrd Skynyrd from somewhere (presumably the song of the poem’s title with a “seven-minute instrumental coda” thrown in). But he seems pretty lethargic about it all.
The second phrase is the final line, describing the love-making girl – “Her little screams petered out, inachevée.” Now, why the French word here? It means “unfinished” and could suggest the girl's dissatisfaction at a premature end. The literal sense is that she’s drowned out when the Lynyrd Skynyrd is turned up. Freebird recalls those mocking birds from S2, flashing green as they pass over - surely a view of the narrator’s state of mind. Indeed, the whole poem is like a loose metaphor for inner turmoil. The narrator might feel detached from his surroundings, but they have inserted their hooks into him.