SPECULATION ABOUT THE FUTURE
If I stand still long enough, I can feel my skin turn to bone. There's a clarity to my thoughts. The wind feels like silk against my body. I know that from a distance, I must resemble a statue, but I'm not made of stone. I am more like a shadow, a long, solitary shadow in a painting by de Chirico. Or like the sensation of walking down the street in one of those paintings, as if entering a new century or exploring a different planet. It's impossible to know if it's better to encounter what lives there or to be left completely alone.
Now that I've been standing here forever, a little girl rolls a hoop along the street. Two men shake hands in the town square. Smoke issues from a train in the distance. I'm a shadow, casting a shadow in the middle of it all. A giant clock, looming over the claustrophobic landscape, refuses to move its hands. I tell time by my own diminishing, by the sun’s place in the sky, rising higher, arcing toward noon.
AN OLD-FASHIONED COMEDY
The television strobe divides the room into halves of poverty and grief. We’ve put down the dog but not its fleas. They jump from the olive green carpet on to our ankles. The old-fashioned comedy shines on us. The fat man dressed like a robot. The thin man in a vest gesturing relentlessly.
There is a red telephone next to the couch like the one that calls Russia at the end of the world. When it rings, we refuse to answer. The news is never good. How long can this go on? A long time, but quickly. The clock in the kitchen is fast.
Christopher Kennedy is the author of five full-length collections of poetry, including Small Hope Factory (Ampersand Books, forthcoming June 2015), Ennui Prophet (BOA Editions, Ltd.), and Encouragement for a Man Falling to His Death (BOA Editions, Ltd.), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award in 2007, and a chapbook, Once I Saw You Laughing When I Was Feeling Sad (Midnight City Books, 2014). His work has appeared in many print and on-line journals and magazines, including 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 an associate professor of English at Syracuse University where he directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing.