Eratio Issue 17




The Shared Territory


by Tim Kahl





One territorial male was observed to mate with eighteen females,

a malcontented hunchbrain by the name of Greyface.  He thought


the universe was as humorless as he—look at all the rivals around

you—and then experts pondered the organ shortage.  There’s no way


to adequately describe how exciting it is when that phone call comes

in the middle of the night.  But for many people awaiting transplant,


that call never comes.  Many more people would donate, imitating

their saviors in dress and hairstyle, but children are made to meet


this purpose.  They follow their fathers who then pick up after them. 

Indeed most males would probably prefer fathering


a child the more conventional way—by marrying first.  Mothers whose

children will be “good eaters” are most envied.  The child grows up


to be a tailgater, eats and drinks until which time he is swept up

by the masses.  Hundreds that day were climbing to the top,


some on all fours it’s so steep.  Then you jump and fly, run down in

an exaggerated zigzag, or run, trip, and then roll halfway down,


stopping only after there is multi-colored sand on every square inch

of your body.  Such is the beginning of sexual union. 


The citizen should then embrace her with his left arm. 

At this time, too, while the woman lies in his lap with her face


towards the moon, the citizen should show her the different planets,

the evening star, how bunched they leave the womb feeling.  Moon is


companion, muse, rotating billboard for the polite behaviors

of gravity.  Doesn’t a watcher of skies love to shout at the actors too? 


Time spent in a resin chair will reveal strange heartbeats,

expanding like glass blown or mud exploded.  There in an instant


language is trying to do the same thing to aging and happiness,

without any biologists knowing about it.  In silence


they are dazzled by the choreography of genes, the metabolism of

a baseball game.  Their hopes are placed on the next inning,


pitcher and batter faithfully agreed upon their dueling etiquette. 

Shots ring out.  A rival dies, an organ donor.  Old Greyface


is seen licking stamps and sitting in the cool shadows of the towers. 

He sighs, moans and writes: under the moon and stars tonight,


my darling, we shall delight in the shared territory of our bodies.










Tim Kahl is the author of Possessing Yourself (CW books, 2009) and The Century of Travel (CW Books, 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 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 currently teaches at The University of the Pacific.Tim Kahl is online at