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If I’d Been a Landed Gent
by Tim Kahl

If I had been born a landed gent
in the age of the pocket watch and spats,
I would tour the muddied wheels and the plows
to see how well my allowance was growing.
My income tied to the crop coming in and
all the peasant rents, I would gambole across
the meadow in search of a delicate wildflower
I could gently brush against my loved one’s brow.
I would dine on sumptuous pheasant, whole
potatoes simmering in their proper stew
while I knew I could expect everyone
to be in their place just as today
the TV screens give way to the masters
of the universe while my eyes follow them along
their path to role model, hero worship
and eventually planted on the Forbes list.
Oh, mighty shareholders, make me aware
of my diminutive position that keeps dwindling
and dwindling with respect to yours,
telescoping away from me like that man
of class and dignity in the nineteenth century
I might have been — one of the rompers, the friskers
that frolicked and pranced, that cavorted through
his days on earth aware that my money made
my merit . . . and that I stood to inherit.
My opinion would have mattered more
because I had cash to back it. I’d be one
of the owners of it all and still want more.
I’d be one of the forever miracles.

PHOTO: Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, a landed gent in late 1800s England, in Pride and Prejudice (1995).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tim Kahl is the author of Possessing Yourself (CW Books, 2009), The Century of Travel (CW Books, 2012) and The String of Islands (Dink, 2015). 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 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 also has a public installation in Sacramento (In Scarcity We Bare The Teeth). He currently teaches at California State University, Sacramento and houses his father’s literary estate—one volume: Robert Gerstmann’s book of photos of Chile, 1932.

PHOTO: The author on R Street in Sacramento, California.