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Live Encounters Aotearoa New Zealand Poets & Writers April 2023
I Love You…, poems by Erik Kennedy.
I Love You but Please Keep a Metre Away from the Artworks
Everyone gets bored with everyone,
and you’ll get bored with me,
but hopefully not as bored
as the art gallery security guard
who drew a face on a painting
on his first day on the job (true story).
Inside each of us there are two wolves fighting.
One is an art vandal. The other
is an art guard. Which one will win?
Whichever one gets enough paid breaks
and can handle staring at walls.
The visitors mosey. The day crawls.
This is a constant for everyone,
like cosmic background radiation.
Every day I’m not doodled on
before the day is over
is a cause for celebration,
something that brings us closer.
Simultaneous Elevator Pitches
I’d love to let our big ideas
loose in the playroom
and see which one
soils the carpet
And you say
you diamond-studded maniac
you lion-maned brain-legend
you mind-monster from El Dorado
how about you and me
make a mental salad the size of a city
and save the stadium-sized croutons
And I say
I love it
you sick philosopher of abundance
you dearth-defying freak
you deadly vector of affluenza
you’re goddamned right
let’s pump some thought-water
through the pipes
and see where the leaks are
Croquet: The First National Sport of Aotearoa New Zealand
‘A man now, who comes up from the country, finds that he has to wear the
latest collar . . . recognise his invitations by an afternoon call; and last,
but not least, acquire the art of croquet.’ —Ōtautahi Christchurch, 1874
Croquet is, famously, a game for men and women,
for children and invalids, for temperance tea-drinkers
and Saturday souses at imitation country houses.
The universal joy of thwocking a thing through a hoop
in your latest collar, after having some mock turtle soup
or bubbles—well, it really is an art as much as a sport.
No one’s much better at croquet, objectively, than anyone else.
It’s like being good at throwing a tennis ball to a dog:
everyone’s got the knack to a degree. This is where
the artistry comes in. Do you play like a guest at the Savoy
or like a ‘Wild Colonial Boy’, like in the folk song?
Do you feel more like a light, white croquet shoe
or the trampled grass it walks on? Adopt a style.
Genteel as it is, the lawn is a site of identity-making.
You’d be surprised at the diversity on show here.
English. Northern English. Oxbridge. Royal Navy
rootless English. Cornish. English New Zealander.
Anglo-Welsh. Anglo-Irish. Anglo-Australo-Cantabrian.
Scottish and therefore non-croquet-playing.
So when the national bunting comes out and we shout
our centre-parted heads off for our national team
in the greatest four-ball, six-hoop lawn sport
in Christendom, we expect our representatives to play
like us: buttoned up, still insecure, a little unused
to calling the land we play for ‘our land’, because it’s not
our land. But at least when the Black Mallets lose,
there’s no domestic violence, because every one of us
has a heavy wooden implement that we know how to use.
© Erik Kennedy
Erik Kennedy (he/him) is the author of the poetry collections Another Beautiful Day Indoors (2022) and There’s No Place Like the Internet in Springtime (2018), both with Te Herenga Waka University Press, and he co-edited No Other Place to Stand, a book of climate change poetry from New Zealand and the Pacific (Auckland University Press, 2022). His poems, stories, and criticism have been published in places like FENCE, The Florida Review, Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, TLS, and Western Humanities Review. Originally from New Jersey, he lives in Ōtautahi Christchurch in Aotearoa New Zealand.
One Reply to “Erik Kennedy – I Love You…”
Very wry, Eric