Three poems by Erik Kennedy
Hearing About Summertime in Other People's Home Towns
There is probably some place
to get an ice cream sundae
so good that if you have one
before the age of seven
the world will always be
that little bit more berry-like,
icier than love itself.
And on the shores of the lakes
in those various home towns
the insects praise your tans
and herons fan your hair
and beavers build their dams
to honour local heroes
who did their bit in the war.
(They learned to do their bit
at the excellent public schools.)
And on the festival day
a chosen girl and boy,
crowned with vines and ribbons,
proceed up the main street
flanked by functionaries
with sashes and bass drums.
In the civic parks
of these overheard home towns,
on the margins of their lakes,
at approximately three o’clock
on every festival day
the callow girl and boy
recite in one voice
from a piece of paper
a formula of words:
a hymn to continuity,
a prayer for anonymity,
a blessing of the space’s
with other places with
their own ice cream and lakes.
Three Short Shorts
In hindsight, it was probably a mistake for a psychotic god to promise dominion over the
earth to a mob of big-brained primates who are expert at overcoming cognitive dissonance to
justify and erase their cruelty.
Good news is bespoke. Bad news is always available in your size.
I was told that evil would be banal, but I didn’t realise it would be this banal.
Why You've Got Dark Circles Under Your Eyes
According to the internet and, like, medicine,
it's because you’re deficient in B12 or sleep or iron.
That’s not a tragic history. That’s not very inspired.
There are other theories. By comparison
with the nutrients or fatigue idea, the explanatory power
of secret griefs or gnawing worry is very great.
Maybe you accidentally poisoned a Tinder date.
Maybe you set off an explosion of flour
on a factory floor, incinerating dozens of comrades.
(This happens. Flour is highly inflammable.)
Or maybe you stumbled upon an arcane piece
of knowledge so heavy it made your eye area crease
and sag and turn purple and yellow and umber,
which works well as a beautiful way to look like hell.
Erik Kennedy is the author of There's No Place Like the Internet in Springtime (Victoria University Press, 2018), and he is co-editing a book of climate change poetry from Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific forthcoming from Auckland University Press in 2021. His poems and criticism have recently been published in places like FENCE, Landfall, The Moth, Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, and the TLS. Originally from New Jersey, he lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.