074.1: Tim Kahl:: The Trellis & Anatomy of the Noumena
22 August 2011
In the shape of a “great old redwood naked in starlight,” the tree awes us with its power and scale; however, in the form of a “corpseflower,” the tree becomes a register of the “accumulated dead.” Tim Kahl’s poetry switches from the lyrically beautiful to the lyrically macabre in an instant, as if our impressions of the world were as diametrically opposed as the two sides of a pancake. Kahl is the hand that deftly flips these conflicted reactions. It is the dynamism of seeing one thing radically transformed from a different angle, with a different phrase, that makes makes the work so numinous. Kahl maintains an ambivalent relationship to the world he describes. On one side of this relationship, Kahl expresses wonder and excitement, rendered by a voice reminiscent of William Carlos Williams. Passages from “Anatomy of the Noumena” take such pleasure in the description of a maple, for instance, that catalogs of detail become catalogs for the various stations of reverence: “the half-light is wrapt (rapt) tight on its frame, / Ghosting oblivion / Nervous spike of growth / Positioning amid the infinite matter.”