Mick Kennedy teaches creative writing, composition and literature in Elizabethtown, KY. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Midwest Quarterly, California QuarterlyQuarterly Literary Review SingaporeColumbia Journal OnlineNew Southerner, Iron Horse Literary ReviewWar the Arts & LiteratureThe Louisville ReviewPikeville Review, Cut-Thru ReviewWillow ReviewIndiana English, PegasusMid-West Poetry Review, and elsewhere.

How We Wait on the World to Speak to Us

You in the upstairs studio of the last
century house, the palette hums, the canvas
with mushroom-ribbed, devil-ray-shaped wings
lifts the viewer into rust-orange and burnt-
blue fog, a single-eye periscope extends
dorsal-wise, bidding her to see to hear
the fibers clutch and coax the paint, like barn
swallows flashing night autumn sun white-throated
to take insects stirred by the mower, while
I walk the asphalt track, right foot tracing
the outside yellow line, a cicada
buzz in a pine tree close then farther always
finds me, even when a small whirlwind
of dried leaves and grass clippings catch me
the circular rush of air the smell of ochre
of summer falling away—

The Day It Rained Blubber

State Highway division crews plan to blow up the remains
of a 45-foot Pacific gray whale which washed up on the beach …
south of the Siuslaw River. — Eugene Register-Guard 11/11/70

Light as a zeppelin in the sea, devil
fish, rip sack, mussel digger, no name divines
the creature’s chi, clad in mottled housecoat
of barnacles and lice. Sedna was chased

from Inuit dreams. Her father sliced dolphins
and seals from her left hand, cousins harpooned
for lamps and meat. Slumgullion poured into
the ocean to feed smelts, krill, sablefish.

Or this one ridden by Aegaeon beached
on Oregon shore, seagull pageantry
and scuttling attendants at the wake.
Doris’ daughters watched as landlubbers clicked

pictures, imagined mates aboard the Pequod,
placed TNT leeward to free the town
of death stench. A red-bloom curse, plume of blood—
beachcombers and newsmen dodged chunks that thumped

dunes and boardwalks, smashed car hoods and
windshields a quarter-mile away.