Old Men Pitching Horseshoes

By X J Kennedy b. 1929
Back in a yard where ringers groove a ditch,
These four in shirtsleeves congregate to pitch
Dirt-burnished iron. With appraising eye,
One sizes up a peg, hoists and lets fly—
A clang resounds as though a smith had struck
Fire from a forge. His first blow, out of luck,
Rattles in circles. Hitching up his face,
He swings, and weight once more inhabits space,
Tumbles as gently as a new-laid egg.
Extended iron arms surround their peg
Like one come home to greet a long-lost brother.
Shouts from one outpost. Mutters from the other.

Now changing sides, each withered pitcher moves
As his considered dignity behooves
Down the worn path of earth where August flies
And sheaves of air in warm distortions rise,
To stand ground, fling, kick dust with all the force
Of shoes still hammered to a living horse.


Poem copyright ©2007 by X.J. Kennedy. Poem reprinted from In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: New and Selected Poems, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007, by permission of X.J. Kennedy and the publisher.

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Poet X J Kennedy b. 1929

 X J Kennedy

Biography

Joseph Kennedy, better known to his readers by the pseudonym X. J. Kennedy, is a self-confessed "schizophrenic" as regards his writings. Kennedy noted to Contemporary Authors that "I write for three separate audiences: children, college students (who use textbooks), and that small band of people who still read poetry." But there is unity in all of Kennedy's writings—underlying it is a love of poetry and meter, a playfulness . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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