#FlattenTheCurve: On Immunity by Tim Kahl


The sky is falling, but the birds still fly
through it. I hear their regiments pass
overhead and wonder what their quarrel is.
Do they simply take orders from their own
blood? Their instincts serve them
like a parade serves a city.

Those garrulous starlings in the morning
seem to be making plans. They commandeer
the new recruits to battle the latest virus,
which my friends and I barely noticed.
There must have been panic as
the flock dissolved. Questions were vollied.
What bird reason did they apply
or was all the chatter about food?

They see us in quarantine down below
and frown on our obsession. Where was this
worry when the last wave hit us? they inquire
. . . or do they merely casually observe
and leave us to our knitting, our fretting
that we might suffocate on our lung pus,
a death as dignified as choking on vomit.

Our overactive immune system will do
us in, sunk by our defensive posture.
While we hunker in the bunker, the birds
are catching wind and halting their laments.
Good God, how the waterfowl are laughing.
They’ve seen this movie before. They
mythologize the last birdseye view on
the world. Everything gone and one god-like
vision floating above, a god who understands
death cannot be considered an event in life.



Tim Kahl [http://www.timkahl.com] is the author of Possessing Yourself (CW Books, 2009), The Century of Travel (CW Books, 2012) The String of Islands (Dink, 2015) and Omnishambles (Bald Trickster, 2019). 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 [http://www.cladesong.com]. 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.

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