Shaker Box

by Tim Kahl

It is where the grass clippings are kept
after the divination, after Friday’s allusions
to Monday are dictated to those of us
standing with the hieroglyph, the paper doll
and ASCII man on the edge of the moment
where the lid of the box opens to reveal:
more seeds than the original fruit had to offer,
herbs to remedy twaddle, the psychology of
intrinsic shapes shaken and shaken and shaken.
The carpenter’s torn theology of the tree affects
the shape of the box we live in and the house
next door where the hieroglyph, the paper doll,
and ASCII man attempt to stretch their representations
—they want to get out of the box. They want to tour
the famous outside where the layers of fashion
are intended, then swept away with the fallen
camellia blossoms. A pink pile of them wasted,
exposed, their brown rims crestfallen as though
an injury had occurred to a style of human.
The dead petals are stored and guarded by
the copper tacks and small wooden dowels.
Only so many lives are made use of, tooled to
the exact specs of a community of gardens.
Spring alludes to winter. The dew spreads
carefully onto the remaining leaves
huddled together, and those of us who are
kin to the hieroglyph, the paper doll
and ASCII man aspire to be the winner of
a face issued on a circulating dollar. The bill is
held up and verified as real, then stashed away
and the lid replaced on each item swimming in
the swirl towards a wave arriving in the future.

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, 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 appears as Victor Schnickelfritz at the poetry and poetics blog The Great American Pinup and the poetry video blog Linebreak Studios. He is also editor of Bald Trickster Press and 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 currently teaches at California State University, Sacramento and houses his father’s literary estate—one volume: Robert Gerstmann’s book of photos of Chile, 1932.

Photo by: Ana Prundaru