Erik Kennedy ~ Two Poems

Descended from Peacelords

Some lah-di-dah grandees
are descend­ed from
famous warlords
and like to tell you
about their butch escutcheons

the pow­er of the past

where­as I

to the best of my knowledge

come from a long line
of peacelords

peo­ple who led drudg­ing lives
not armies

who want­ed to win the foot­ball pools
not glo­ri­ous victories

who may have had malice
in their hearts
but nev­er learned to prac­tise the arts
of chi­canery and domination
of lands

and who are therefore
by history

they didn’t make a bad system
much worse

didn’t hold the world ransom
to their demands

they loved in the ordi­nary way
in their ordi­nary eras
and when they failed

they didn’t plunge the neighbourhood
into dark­ness and terror


Refining the Concept

The clas­sic imagery of Hell is drawn from the sack­ings of cities. Only in this one cir­cum­stance are all the worst ter­rors and out­rages of earth­ly exis­tence mar­shalled togeth­er: fire, slaugh­ter, tor­ture, rape, enslave­ment, dis­pos­ses­sion. If Hell is real, rea­soned the great thinkers of the past, it must be like that, but worse. So when urban war­fare changes, Hell should change with it. More ran­dom­ness, more instant oblit­er­a­tion, more pow­er­ful forces not aid­ing you, more waiting.


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 has co-edit­ed No Other Place to Stand, a book of cli­mate change poet­ry from Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific (Auckland University Press, 2022). His poems, sto­ries, and crit­i­cism have been pub­lished in places like FENCE, The Florida Review, Hobart, Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, the TLS, and Western Humanities Review. Originally from New Jersey, he lives in Ōtautahi Christchurch in Aotearoa New Zealand.