Permutations of the Mammalian Glance

by Tim Kahl

You wouldn’t find baboons climbing over rubble on
the chance of finding another baboon still alive, and you wouldn’t
find the secret genetic code of the GloFish ensconced in

the least significant bits of this digital photo of earth
(as seen by tribesmen peering back from the multiverse through
the double slit). Never seen, the other outcome collapses.

We find ourselves in our traditional dress, juice stains and tobacco spit
on the sleeves. Enemies plan their shadows to combat our laws of nature,
leaving the physical source of purpose lost in the vicinity of Venus’s

surface. A sample is sought of the unknown mass—for transplant.
Resolute pairs of eyes determine an outcome for the showdown of
graft versus host. Other outcomes make ethicists necessary.

In the end the frayed optic nerve is saved, but at the cost of recognizing
clear options—a spider’s indifference to a moth’s poisoned wings.
Dichotomy slips into paradox and invites a trillion solutions to

the problems of tourists. They yield to consider the quantum foam,
cautious so that copies of themselves may be cautious too.
They move away from male hierarchies, move toward sex as

reconciliation. Family (with allomother) is folded into a wormhole
according to the origami software’s instructions. Local outcome:
an albino baboon hanging from a thread in the crosswinds of

the ventilation system. It’s offered a chance to embrace egalitarianism—
one life in the debris, level to another, buried in the swarming population
—as the solar flares garble the gentle satellite images of the world at night.


[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 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.]