The Four Stages of Oral Fixation


Rubber. milk flows. the falls leave the boats tied in clusters with cord. half the day is spent just longing. the moon over the pale trees sunset in the breeze. cork floats. after a while muscle the enemy. undone by nudging fruit inside the swaddling clothes. half an hour. noon passes. waste a little on the white cloth. sadness. nearsighted. circles glow red with heat. the waves fall over the rocks. the jitters. more than it used to. grips grow hard in the sun.


Leather. shies away from magnets. teething. the echoes tangle in twos, threes. dozens are lost to the ruins. the nightmare after kissing. shaking and listening to the breeze. work habits. nesting in the grass offered dreaming. often the underside. back off a little. moon overload. heavy breathing. yawns. afternoons and seasons. together they are chosen. keep their ways to themselves. open. hidden. open. hidden. drying in the sun.


Rawhide. damp, separate, but the flesh is warm. regrets are long and linger. silence. haze. the light on the side of the face. more silence. the grass gone and the dogs imagined. sky is ornament. the days capture extra hours. lost signals. trickle of dust. ash. remembrance. cigarette stuck to the lip. the fragile puzzle tilts. no sense of place. no aims. no ties. no sun.


Beef jerky. patterns appear. vibrations. series. leaves begin to fall on top of other leaves. the seasons rate. lip service. cunnilingus. breath mints. butterscotch. trying to play the saxophone. whistling. washing off the carrot sticks. the moon a tilted smile. a game that’s played. decisions. dreams. travel. a bottle floats beyond the ruins. the sky retreats. hours passing. growing. muscles longing. mouth sucks blindly on the sun.


Tim Kahl is the author of Possessing Yourself (Word Tech, 2009) and The Century of Travel (Word Tech, 2012). His work has been published in Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, Notre Dame Review, The Journal, Parthenon West Review, and many other journals in the U.S. He appears as Victor Schnickelfritz at the poetry and poetics blog The Great American Pinup, and he is the vice president and events coordinator of the Sacramento Poetry Center.