2 poems by Tim Kahl

The Stolid Citizen

The neighbour and I are out to hunt
the mistletoe in the trees again this year.
We must stay in compliance with 
association rules. Sales are down from the days 
of yore when the merchande de gui would roam
the streets of Paris and peddle 
many bunches to ward off evil.
But long ago magic was eradicated from this place.
The spirits of time and ancestors of the land
have vanished into tule’s breath.
We proceed with a mini chain saw on a pole
and hack off the offending branches.
The pruning is strategic. The battle plan stands
to reason. Each tree will be free and clear
until the marvellous robins and sparrows
once more crank up their orchestra of crapping
and it will sound like spring.

Still, I can’t help thinking that if we
had waited to cut them off with a golden sickle
on the sixth night of the moon, we might have
preserved some old world wizardry in the air.
A young woman might have marked the initials
of the man she loved on a leaf and held it
close to her heart. The high beams of the barn
might have kept a mess of it to ensure the health
of the cows. When it burned, a steady flame
would be a sign of good luck and a sputtering one
an omen of an ill-tempered spouse.
Suddenly, I contain the nostalgia of a buffoon.
I hang a sprig in the garage to protect me from
all my electric saws and angry hand tools.
I keep a dog on the couch to warn me of
the mailman bringing bills. I chew and chew
my earth-flavored food in the name of St. Jude,
but it is a lost cause to champion magical thinking.
The earth knows otherwise. It is clear-headed,
a stolid citizen, enduring the likes of parasites like me.

There is a Stellar Stream in the Southern Sky

There is a stellar stream in the southern sky.
One of the spiral arms is reaching out to grab us.

Distant stars are quiet and never care about our affection.
The dust between us prevents them from getting jealous.

The light hints at a chain of events that seek a final origin.
Suppose there was a first event. Suppose there was an explosion.

Then a bit of panicked breathing and rolls of the dice.
The night sky gets so dark because once the stars were lovers.

Still there is a stellar stream in the southern sky.
One of the spiral arms is reaching out to slap us.

Every possibility is in a quarrel with our intelligence.
The boundary runs along the edge of the infinite.

We flirt with our exchange of heat from one ripple to another.
Bubbles emerge and indicate the different temperatures.

Consider the number of directions in space.
Consider the number of heartbeats that need to be replaced.

The uncertainty of this affair leads to various positions.
We are the experts of our condition and our escape velocity.

There is a stellar stream in the southern sky.
One of the spiral arms is handing us our deliverance.

Tim Kahl [http://www.timkahl.com] is the author of Possessing Yourself (CW Books, 2009), The Century of Travel (CW Books, 2012) The String of Islands (Dink, 2015) and Omnishambles (Bald Trickster, 2019). His work has been published in Prairie Schooner, Drunken Boat, Mad Hatters' Review, Indiana Review, Metazen, Ninth Letter, Sein und Werden, Notre Dame Review, The Really System, Konundrum Engine Literary Magazine, The Journal, The Volta, Parthenon West Review, Caliban and many other journals in the U.S. He is also editor of Clade Song [http://www.cladesong.com]. He is the vice president and events coordinator of The Sacramento Poetry Alliance. He also has a public installation in Sacramento {In Scarcity We Bare The Teeth}. He plays flutes, guitars, ukuleles, charangos and cavaquinhos. He currently teaches at California State University, Sacramento, where he sings lieder while walking on campus between classes.
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