Christopher Kennedy

3 Poems

Triptych: Analogy of Faith


Christ in Limbo


An angry Christ enters limbo with a cross held over his head

like a spear. He’s pushing open the door and appears to be

crushing three demons made of burnished silver, one with

bloody hands, crying out from its bird-like head. (Who guards

the gates of limbo?) I saw a wild thing with a funnel over its

head, running away past some creatures who appear to be

gambling at a baize-covered table. Elsewhere a flayed body

hangs upside down near some severed limbs.


Outside my window, Canada geese lift skyward with their

black and white heads held above the frantic beating of

wings, the sky darkens, and a flickering shadow covers the

lawn for a few moments.

The rest of the panel is a landscape of suffering that belies

how I was told the unbaptized spend eternity. I had pictured

a large room, empty except for unfortunate babies tended by

pagans who had lived good lives, a kind of netherworld

nursery where nothing ever happens.


Self Portrait


It’s been said that Bosch placed his own face, placid, whitish

gray, in the Hell panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights. It’s

what stands out to me, the stealthy calm inside the storm of

tortured flesh, his head a ghostly Where’s Waldo?, hidden in

plain sight in the painting of the monsters in his head. In his

head, a hell much worse than anyone had ever dreamed of,

and his eyes, askance, as if he could see beyond the menagerie

of tortured souls and his Prince of Hell to the Heaven panel,

places I no longer bother to imagine.


This World


I click the tab and it closes. The screen is black. It is black

outside, too. I can see the blood moon out the window now,

watching me, winking as in an old cartoon. The moon

disappears behind a cloud as if eaten by one of Bosch’s

demons. I sit and wait for it to be expelled. The room shades

dark as a confessional.

Family Tree


I watched the Christmas tree fly sideways like an arrow on to

the lawn. Lights and bulbs cracking, a missile aimed at

sorrow. There was a halo around the moon. A streetlight

flickered above the boulevard. My mother stood on the

stoop, breathing hard, so that I could see she was alive. Not

everyone was. And anyways the slipknot comfort of the past

is just another noose, hanging from an old catalpa.


I never saw my shadow then when it wasn't being eaten by

the shade, and looking back, it's gone, replaced by a mutant

shape. The sky sparks briefly in the distance tonight, stagnant

with heat. I kill the time that's killing me, nirvana-starved,

calm, meditating on the mute indifference of the room,

becoming so small I could be eaten by a flea—but I grow like

a seed into the tree of myself, rooted, a rope around my

sturdy neck.

Waves and Particles


I wake from a dream of digging my own grave to the sound

of my neighbor who has lost both his legs, shoveling his walk,

scraping his metal blade across the bricks that lead to his

front door. The violet light of early dawn filters through the

bathroom window and reflects off the mirror, a wash of

waves and particles. A crow glides toward a dead deer’s body

on the shoulder of the main highway. Two thousand miles

away, a scorpion waits in the sand for a horse to pass, its

stinger taut and arched behind its back. I see the black shoe

you left behind, fallen to its side. There is no need for life on

other planets.