Tim Kahl – Four Poems



The study of wine begins with the shape
of the glass — it is always goddess. It is
never lost luggage. The simple advance
toward emptiness is best after that.
But as it disappears, red into the riddle
of what is missing, white into the middle
of winter, someone prepares to witness
the little trill of moment informing the wit.
The face is resurfaced; the hand is
the sudden expert of its path. What must
the eye travel past hurrying for its
destination? It carries a light
through the fog to find a landing
for the mind. The afterthought
refers to its foundation of tannins,
acid, and style of barrel. A subtle lapse
is triggered by a loss of taste. The wine
rides over, vessel within a vessel.
Discover what it carries, lost in the
glass the shape of a goddess possessed.


Barefoot Delia

I am not ready for you yet
and it is almost winter. The storm windows
are still in and I have yet to clean
the leaves out of the gutters.
But I happened upon you tonight
after the lights went out and the draft
from the sliding door pushed me closer to you.
If I work to bring you even closer,
then I will be another kind of father
who must also work harder to bring
the family together. Likely,
we will all come to the table at dinner
to linger in silence. The dishes will be
cleared and each one of us will be in
a rhythm of duty to one another,
sorting all the silverware,
making lunches, clearing the shoes
off the step in the garage, and you,
my barefoot Delia, you are chasing
a leaf on the porch outside
unaware that too soon every night
will seem like every other.
You who dreams of dandelions
in summer, who dreams of catching raindrops,
you, still unborn and still in need of
my attention. You who knows
at the slightest hint of farewell
that you are not ready
for me as well.


A Ready Stone


for Photini

From archipelagoes her stone seasons of mood arrive, a cover over
lip and areola, I skip her on the archives of water. She is leaden,
diseased by her species, the face of a cliff or an evangelist.
She evaporates into dark heavens. I move too soon to follow.

She is not a corner, not a situation. Those eyes with bone beneath
are kept in line by their own pattern. They are not safe to borrow.
Eyes, alive in their own ointment rubbed on the center of a
spiral galaxy. She is the data of a raw power. I am so much slighter.

I move too soon to follow her. I am acting on my own, drifting
through the gesture zones, too quickly pressed, too abrupt and
drifting, thrown. There is standstill. She controls her blinking with
the darkest instinct. I do not wait for answers from a ready stone.




When the monarchs are released and
they stay on the ground, this means:
your gift is here on earth,
And when the geese remain on the water,
this means:
there will be very few disturbances.
And when the sun comes out from behind the clouds
and settles on the mountain,
this will mean that you are
at peace with where you are now.
The horses lay themselves open to the sun.
The moon is caught in the blue sky.
The deer eat the leaves off the birches in the meadow.
So what is this hole in the sky
where the light streams in?
Is it an omen of what is true here and now?
Or will it be truer later like the luck of a good marriage,
or one day with friends that ends with a brilliant sunset,
or the blessing of a child who dreams of flight and
tends to the monarchs spread out on the ground.



Author’s Statement on Beauty

Beauty is that elusive bird that I don’t quite believe in, but I have to know is out there, that ivory-billed woodpecker thought to be extinct for 50 years but turns up in the Arkansas hinterlands. Even when I see it and palpably feel it, I’m a bit suspicious. Of course, a dozen experts will be there in the morning to confirm its existence, but somehow I am happier with a beautiful thing when I am the only one there, so private is the rattle in my gut and cerebral cortex.


Tim Kahl  is the author of Possessing Yourself (CW Books, 2009), The Century of Travel (CW Books, 2012) and The String of Islands (Dink, 2015). His work has been published in Prairie Schooner, Drunken Boat, Indiana Review, Notre Dame Review, The Journal, The Volta and many other journals in the U.S. He is also editor of Clade Song. He is the vice president and events coordinator of The Sacramento Poetry Center. 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. More at: timkahl.com.