the emperor of ice-cream lies

linda kennedy

“The speaker is telling us and everyone in the room that death is cold,

even ugly and final.”

—Andrew Spacy, Analysis of “The Emperor of Ice-Cream” by Wallace Stevens

Breaking the grip of your big brother's hand,

you run

out onto the highway chasing an unseen

thrill, blinds you to the tractor-trailer.

Your brother stands on the curb turning

to stone,


On my bike, I ride past where you lay almost

all covered in the whitest white sheet,


not hyssop washed but blood-of-Jesus clean.

I still see it,

your brown foot exposed,

full of wander and wonder—

you like some august Roman resting

under that semi-pergola,

I could have called out and you would have

sat up to see. When I returned you had left. I bet

you went to the drugstore, sat at the soda fountain

draped in your toga, laughing at your reflection

in the back counter-to-ceiling mirror as

your foot

spun you around

on a red vinyl stool,

one hand holding a cone laden

with scoops refusing

to melt, the other,

with each spin,

gliding lightly over the counter's edge,

ceiling fans whirring.

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Linda Kennedy is a musician and writer in the Richmond, Virginia metropolitan area. She received the Leslie Shiel Scholarship for Creative Writing awarded to Writers Who Read through The Visual Arts Center of Richmond. Her poems have been awarded in competitions and appeared online and in print, including Muse/A, 3Elements Review, Stoneboat, and Nonbinary Review.