Raud Kennedy




Making My Own Acquaintance


I used to smoke, crave it, enjoy it.

Now its something people do

who are ambivalent about life,

not sure if they want to live or die.

I used to drink a lot.

It was the high and low of my day.

Now its what people do who are in pain.

Their pain has taken on a life of its own

and needs to be fed and cared for

like a lost soul theyve brought home from the bar.

I used to feel sad and needed that sadness

to have something to escape from

because without it Id be left alone

experiencing an uncomfortable silence

with a stranger.






In bed, prolonging the moments

before pushing back the covers.

The voice on NPR, a reporter in Afghanistan,

refers to the spring fighting season

as if hes announcing the opening

of ski season at Mt. Hood Meadows.

I brush my teeth, minty fresh, extra whitener.

Death tolls from suicide bombings.

Toweling off after showering, its total US casualties,

a number that could be the population figure

of a small city. A city of dead young men and women.

The refreshing lather lifts my beard

as my triple bladed razor shaves my face kissable smooth.

Tell me again why we are there while I am here.





Getting Through the Day


How hard is it to get through your day without getting angry,

or swearing at the car in front of you for going a little slow?

Or hating someone you really just dont understand?

How hard is it to get through your day

without pulling a knife or chambering a bullet?

How hard is it to not thrust that blade or pull that trigger?

And what does it mean for the rest of us

if the people you respect, look up to, idolize,

encourage you to do just that? To thrust, to squeeze, to kill.

Are we back to building backyard bomb shelters all over again?

I linger over the Cold War and laugh at the peace dividend.

I hear songs from the 60s and laugh some more.

Love thy brother? How can I love someone

who cant get through the day without taking from another

that which is most precious?




Meeting my Past


Some insights are so clear to me today

that I accept them as truths.

But only a few years ago

I wouldve been hesitant

to consider them at all.

If I met my old self on the street

and we talked over a meal,

Id consider him problematic

and be concerned for his future.

Id have no desire to be pals

and would walk away after our meal,

relieved to be free of him,

and hed probably feel the same.

His addictions would make him uneasy.

My sobriety would remind him

of the demons nipping at his heels

that he would soon have to face.

But hed come up with another reason

to avoid that thought.

Hed say to himself,

that guy is quiet, that guy is dull,

and his impatience to lift his next drink

would write me off.

2011 Raud Kennedy




Raud Kennedy is a writer and dog trainer in Portland, Oregon. To learn about his most recent work, Portland, a collection of short stories, please visit www.raudkennedy.com