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

Fast Food

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.