Courageous & Other Poetry and Music by Tim Kahl

Still Shining

Tim Kahl adds flare to his poetry by setting it to music! Each musical piece is designed to match the essence of the poetry. Take some time to come listen and appreciate the delightful combination!


I always thought brave ideas

   were likely sent from heaven.

Kind of like a monarchy,

   but without all the pageantry.

I was wrong. They’re brushed with the devil’s tar.

   They live amid suspicion.

A Minefield

A minefield of sleeping dogs.

   No place to step without a yelp.

It’s like learning to walk on stilts

   with something precious at stake.

Yo-ho-ho. I’m the Jolly Green Giant.

   I tiptoe but inspire trust.

A Pleasure

Is it wrong to eat your own skin?

    I suppose if you’re that hungry . . .

You can chew it, then spit it out.

   That’s a pleasure. Just don’t swallow.

Think safety. Stop before you have none left.

   You can’t go out uncolored.

The Lefse Lady

Do you know the lefse lady?

   Her apron flies as kitchen flag.

Her country is lit by hot griddle.

   Quick, rice the potatoes now.

Butter them with love or stick to brown sugar.

   Hey. Could she still be alive?

When I Come Home

What, what, what, Miss Wigglebutt?

   Always so glad when I come home.

Does daddy have a biscuit?

   Does he have a juicy bone?

Cut. Cut. Cut. You’re talking like an idiot.

   Need not say a thing. She already knows.

The Licorice

Dogs don’t like the licorice.

   Still they beg for some in my hand.

What the hell is wrong with them?

   Are they that bored? It’s just habit?

Lick my foot, you furry sycophant.

   Is this how dogs befriended men?

Artist Statement:

The Korean Sijo is an antiquated form in Korean poetry that was prominent in the late fourteenth to early fifteenth century. It was typically sung (each line containing four metric segments —what are called hemistichs—with a minor pause at the end of the second segment and a major one at the end of the fourth).

The syllable count proceeds as such:

3/4     4      3/4        4

3/4     4      3/4        4

3       5-8       4        3/4

a logical “leap is employed at the beginning of the third line. Or sometimes this gap/caesura takes shape as a developmental shift. Not unlike the Italian volta in the last two lines of a sonnet, it is considered the crux of the poem. Often there are interjections at the beginning of the third line which address a particular person.

These sijo are designed to not be reflective of the traditional content of the fifteenth century form which reflected largely on nature. Rather, they comment on the texture of contemporary life.

I am doing a series of these smaller poems to explore various tones of this short form. They vary from American conversational styles of being rather entertaining and breezy and European conversational styles which are cautious but aim for something meaningful. The ones here are from the latter group.


Tim Kahl [] 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 []. 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.