Kahl and Berson

Catch the squirrel guys, Tim Kahl and Gene Berson, frolicking together for a celebration of books old and new.

Tim Kahl [https://soundcloud.com/tnklbnny] is the author of five books of poems, most recently Omnishambles (Bald Trickster, 2019) and California Sijo (Bald Trickster, 2022). He is also an editor of Clade Song [http://www.cladesong.com]. He builds flutes, plays them and plays guitars, ukuleles, charangos and cavaquinhos as well. He currently teaches at California State University, Sacramento, where he sings lieder while walking on campus between classes.

Squirrel Picnic

Squirrels picnic on fallen seeds.
What a feast for orange teeth!
I recommend their hearty laughs
as antidote to nagging birds.
Flick your tail to bring on followers.
Find one, eat one is their creed.

Gene Berson, lives in the foothills of Northern California but spent many years active in Bay Area poetry scene. Berson's recent work can be read at Sisyphuslitmag.org and Canarylitmag.org. He's also been published in Beatitude, American Poetry Review and in Honeydew and Red Fez anthologies.
Berson taught poetry as an Oakland high school teacher and conducted workshops on Indian reservations, reform schools and in one-room Wyoming schoolhouses.

Fall Squirrels

Squirrels speak in little sentences
over and over, six or seven
squeaky revolutions,
it’s like they’re trying to crank up a Model T
that shivers, sputters whistles and stops
over and over. There’s nothing to do
but take a breath
on the brink of anxious despair
and try again
in the fall silence.
The squirrels
bicker helplessly, like people
revolution after revolution an effort
little squeaks in each tremor
they try to get the engine going
the engine of language
not even knowing what it would sound like
not even knowing what it would do
just driven to try and get through
to break the silence
that drives the squirrels to the edge of hysteria.
So they try again
squeaky little sentences
over and over
to no avail . . . the engine of language
hasn’t even been invented yet.
But they can’t give up
they are surrounded by quiet
winter coming on
mist in the ravines
doesn’t move
there’s no way
to get away, no way
to say what they are trying
to say.
The animals are cold
knowing what’s coming
and nearly out of their minds
because they’ll never have enough
Although the squirrels’ situation is dire
we have to admire
their determination
the incessant pleading
in their urgent squeaky sentences
and how touchingly
they tuck their agile black-gloved fingers
to their chests as if about
to receive communion
and squeak, even daring
at times, to bark—tiny belligerent barks
coughing forth puffs of fog, like smoke signals
in protest, or in appeal.
We try and the squirrels try
over and over
to get an engine
to turn over that won’t.
They bicker and
chase each other like smoke up the tree
then chatter at each other
and we watch them
they’re like comedians
who won’t get off the stage.
It’s vaudeville all over again.
It happens every winter
as the earth dies in our mouths.