New Poems

These poems, a couple of which are actually no spring chickens, are a sampling from XJK’s book, PEEPING TOM’S CABIN: COMIC VERSE 1928-2008, published by BOA Editions. These cartoons are by Josh Kennedy.
Domestic Crisis

“Mother! Father! Hurry, hurry!
Something mammoth, fat and furry
Just jumped out of a banana!
It’s making off with Adrianna!”

“Hmmmm,” says Mother, “is it handsome?”
Does it not demand a ransom?”
Says Father, “Drat that filthy brute!
One never knows what’s in fresh fruit.”

The Fatted Calf Views the Prodigal Son’s Return

His old man spills his waterjugs for joy—
“My younger son! He’s seen the light!” Aw shit,
Reason he’s home to roost a while, this boy,
Is spending-money and three squares. Throat slit,

Drained dry, my guts uncoiled like package twine,
I’ll roast to feed this tramp
Who in four years of college couldn’t learn
Which way to stick a stamp.

Will he reform him to a solid yup
Like poppa wants? When lizards change their spots.
Just watch the bastard wipe his mouth and romp
Back to his old flesh pots.

So listen, kiddos—learn these simple tricks.
Don’t let a hammer knock you out half-grown.
Count calories and go on hunger strikes.
Shake beanstalk butts, be walking stacks of bone

An Aged Wino’s Counsel to a Young Man on the Brink of Marriage

A two-quart virgin on my lap,
With hands that shook I peeled her cap
And filched a kiss that warmed me so,
I raised my right hand, swore I do,
And merged our fleshes, I and she,
In mutual indignity.

Now when I hear of wives that freeze,
Bitter of lip with icebound knees,
Who’ll play high-card for social bets
And lose, and feed you fish croquettes,
Who’ll nap all day and yak all night
What Ruth told Min—now who was right?—
Who’ll count with glee your falling hairs
But brood a week on one of theirs,
Who’ll see your parkerhouse poke out
Before they take a stitch, who put
At change of moon, as I hear tell,
I say, son, wed you half so well.

The Mouthless Moth

Who’d be a male
Cecropia moth?
Short-lived and frail,
He’s got no mouth.
One hour till he flies—
No time to sup
Before Death cries,
“Your number’s up!”

If I were in
That poor bug’s shoes
And had like him
No time to lose
I’d make one last
Request: a gut-
Busting repast:
Shrimp, T-bone rare,
Champagne and, yes,
An aperture
For its ingress.


Impassive, to a tuba chord,
Faces like blurry Photostats,
Enter the class of ’34
In wheelchairs, coned with paper hats.

Discreet, between the first Scotch punch
And the last tot of buttered rum,
President Till works over each,
Fomenting his new stadium.

Fire in his eyes, the class tycoon,
Four hog-hairs bristling from his chin,
Into his neighbor’s Sonotone
Confides his plan to corner tin.

His waitress with a piercing squeal
Wrestles a buttock from his grip.
Dropping the napkins a good deal,
She titters, puddling ox-tail soup.

Now all, cranked high, shrill voices raise
To quaver strains of purple hills
In Alma Mater’s book of days.
Some dim sub-dean picks up the bills,

One last car door slam breaks a whine
Solicitous of someone’s health,
And softly through the mezzanine
The night revives with punctual stealth.

Copyright © 2006 by X. J. Kennedy. All rights reserved.