about the author

Christopher Kennedy is the author of Clues from the Animal Kingdom, forthcoming from BOA Editions, Ltd. in 2018, Ennui Prophet (BOA Editions, Ltd.), Encouragement for a Man Falling to His Death (BOA Editions, Ltd.), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award in 2007, Trouble with the Machine (Low Fidelity Press), and Nietzsche’s Horse (Mitki/Mitki Press). His work has appeared in many print and online journals and magazines, including Plume, New York Tyrant, Ninth Letter, Wigleaf, The Threepenny Review, Mississippi Review, Ploughshares, and McSweeney’s. In 2011, he was awarded an NEA Fellowship for Poetry. He is a professor of English at Syracuse University where he directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing.

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Four Poems 

Christopher Kennedy

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Like a Werewolf on the Moon

To bluff is to be alive. I romance images because once removed is easier to see. I pause but cannot pause you. Like Weldon Kees, sitting on a newspaper, I, too, look off in the distance, askew and aslant, my jazz pants fluttering. I drive bamboozled for hours in the already here and gone, until I feel like an old ship returning to port, then rain like nails on the roof, spores from black mold, a dull ache in my temple. As the beautiful woman once wrote about a beautiful woman: someone is tired of her. It deepens. My lunatic hours increase. Like a werewolf on the moon, I can’t help it. Loneliness is another word for the music we’ve sent hurtling into space in the hope it will reach another civilization. That’s how far away we are. We need rocket ships to send our love. It takes forever to get there. And no one speaks the language anyway.

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In memory: Bill Knott

If I had to summarize my personality, I’d say it’s like laughter at a funeral. I’m a big fan of surgical procedures as performed in the dark by amateurs. I like a certain kind of woman, who exhibits metaphysical traits too abstract to define. I like anchors not the ships they steady, roots instead of blooms, but I prefer to stay silent on the subject, like a stone at the bottom of a deep lake. In this way, I am more like God than television, an absence rather than a presence. What I’m saying is, yes, I’ll come to your party. Just don’t ask me to dance.

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The room reeks of spoiled chicken. The letters on TV are neon pink. Color of flamingoes if flamingoes glowed in the dark. The actress’s tattoos are the skyline of a city we may have visited. I can’t tell if they’re dancing or walking. It’s all half-way. But there’s music, the kind I imagine we would dance to if we were different people. This is beginning to look familiar. This is beginning to look interesting. This is the scene we watched in Spanish.

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The Natural World

There is a sheen in the air like light through a jar of honey—dust mites filter through, striated, eight-legged. The rest of the world remains similarly odd. Outside the Japanese maple loses its bark. Mold pocks the walkway. It’s hard to breathe. Yellow pollen silts the lungs’ mucus-soaked cells. A black snake undulates across the mulch. A blue jay bursts from the white birch. The chemical sunset spreads its human, inhuman beauty across the landscape. Starlings lose their minds. Corn stalks wither and bend. A blue heron flies prehistorically across the slate gray sky, determined to remind us.

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