Poetry — April 13, 2019 15:30 — 0 Comments

Three Poems – Richard Kenney

The Arcturan Vivisectionist Explains

This specimen’s common name is Mirroreye.
Observe (retractor, please) just here—a rare
non-adaptive anomaly in the so-called “third
lid”—common enough, of course, in lizards, birds,
sharks, et al., all perfectly unremarkable, save
that the nictitating membrane is silvered
inside, enabling these creatures to see themselves
reflected everywhere: in wood-grain, in moon, in clouds,
in others of their kind, even; also imparting an odd,
not uncrabwise aspect to their gait, backing hell-bent,
headlong, as it were, into what’s already happened.


Global Citizen,

I think my sins are mostly only
mostly just ridiculous.
Ridiculous I am to me
and never mind and none the less

when shadows lengthen in the ear
and earwigs walk my cornea
below the canthus vanishing,
I feel a breath breathing near:

the blinkbox on the traffic light,
the sequin puncturing the phone
and over the darkened parking lot
the glass eyestalk of the drone:

increasingly these seem to me
the facets of a single gaze
whose compound eye uncomprehends
the innocence of all my days.


It’s Always Yourself That You Find in the Sea
                 Or, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities

Yes, but what a shame.
What a wasted opportunity. Who’d
have predicted we’d wind up so blasted constrained

—in our dream-life? Why not flame
the guttering charcuterie,
when there’s so little hell to pay? Steam

the mussels! What kind of lame
god designs a dietary dessert-cart? Screw Duty.
Think of what a man could do, in dream!

Why prosecute those self-same
thrill-killing scruples and pruderies
shackling waking life so deaconly in dream? Why deem

doom on harm-
less illicitudes
here, in the consequenceless Eden of dream?

Poor spancelled animal! REM-
revels wrecked, the supple pole-dancer suited,
zipped, chaperoned, a never, an ever nothing but a dream.


Richard Kenney is a poet and professor of English at the University of Washington. He is the author of four books of poetry: The Evolution of the Flightless Bird, Orrery, The Invention of the Zero, and The One-Strand River. His fifth book, Terminator, is slated for publication in October, 2019.

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What am I?

Bioluminescent eye
That sees by the shine
Of its own light. Lies

Blind me. I am the seventh human sense
And my stepchild,

Scientists can't find me.

Januswise I make us men;
Was my image then—

Remind me:

The awful fall up off all fours
From the forest
To the hours…

Tick, Tock: Divine me.

-- Richard Kenney