Two Poems by Erik Kennedy

Poetry, Prose




The Paris Agreement

Again in a time of negligible public trust
the important thing is to trust. If we don’t believe
the treaty-makers, they won’t believe themselves.
The phrase that nearly broke the deal was just
what you’d expect: every translator knows
a delicate word for ‘we are so fucked’
but none for ‘legally enforceable’.
In the bleak, mild winter discussions close.
For one person a hoop is just a hoop,
but for 196 parties
it’s a multi-meaning, omni-deployable
torus of the imagination. Oops.
It will never not be right to panic.
Meanwhile we array our satisfied brains
flaccid and cool and semi-supine like a hammock
slung between two candy canes.


The Personal Responsibility Model of Wildlife Conservation

There are as many species on earth as there are Austrians (8.7 million). Ours is a time of personal responsibility. What can’t be achieved by an individual who subordinates destiny to willpower? Let’s assign one species to each Austrian. That species must be kept alive on pain of death. Expect campaigns, appeals, initiatives, programmes, directives, operations, and schemes. Don’t be surprised by the vigour and ingenuity of the private sector when a problem has got to be solved. Endangered Austrians, Near Threatened Austrians, and Austrians of Least Concern can all agree. And would we be so cavalier about extincting a type of (for example) prawn if twinkly, sandy-haired Jochen has to die for it? The answer may still be yes, but whatever we say in public instead of yes will have to convince Jochen’s brooding, thunder-browed friends.


Erik Kennedy‘s poems and reviews have appeared in places like Ladowich, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Rumpus in the U.S., The Morning Star, Oxford Poetry, and Poems in Which in the U.K., and Landfall and Sport in New Zealand. He is the poetry editor for Queen Mob’s Teahouse. Originally from New Jersey, he now lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.