A Scandal in the Suburbs by X.J. Kennedy

A Scandal in the Suburbs
by X.J. Kennedy

We had to have him put away,
For what if he’d grown vicious?
To play faith healer, give away
Stale bread and stinking fishes!
His soapbox preaching set the tongues
Of all the neighbors going.
Odd stuff: how lilies never spin
And birds don’t bother sowing.
Why, bums were coming to the door—
His pockets had no bottom—
And then-the foot-wash from that whore!
We signed. They came and got him.

Ah, it is the season of Advent

It is the season of Advent. Many years ago, my sister-in-law presented my household with a beautiful, hand-sewn Advent calendar. She said that her daughter did most of the work.

Hanging the Advent calendar is an anticipated part of the season. The family gathers around the dining room table to read selected passages and sing a song. Kidlingers take turns each evening selecting an ornament behind a number and hanging it on the calendar’s tree.

Around the time the hand-sewn Advent calendar was received, I began a search for related, relevant Advent poetry to celebrate the season. This took awhile. But eventually I collected 12 poems and shared them on this blog.[1] It has become the most visited and shared post I have written. A series of Advent podcasts were produced as well,[2] [3] [4] [5] but the list of 12 Advent poems is a perennial favorite.

Slowly I gathered a few more poems for this annual tradition. This year I will share throughout the Advent season poems by Wendell Berry, Patrick Kavanagh, X.J. Kennedy, Jane Kenyon, Mary Jo Salter, and R. S. Thomas.

[1] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry)
[2] Poems and readings for the First Sunday of Advent
[3] Poems and readings for the Second Sunday of Advent
[4] Poems and readings for the Third Sunday of Advent
[5] Poems and readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

No more Free Lunch

This weekend I received a letter in the post informing me that Free Lunch is closing shop. The news really disappointed me for two reasons. One, I was hoping to have some poems published. Two, I reviewed an issue of Free Lunch for Small Press Review and really enjoyed the publication. Some literary/poetry publications are dense with inaccessible poetry and my work doesn’t seem to fit. But Free Lunch felt like a good fit. Here’s an abridged version of the review I submitted to Small Press Review:

Free Lunch presents an engaging 20th Anniversary issue. Unlike many poetry magazines that contain a smattering of good poems and a couple great poems, the Spring 2009 issue of Free Lunch collects stellar work by Billy Collins, Stephen Dunn and many others. It is my habit as a reader to dog-ear pages in books or magazines that elicit some sort of physical response; like smacking a book on my knee and saying “yeah” to the amusement of fellow bus riders. Lyn Lifshin writes, “I love the sense/ of her contentment/ feel it moving/ inside me the/ way when a/ poem works…” in her poem “Writing a poem is like why and when a cat purs.” In “Advice from a Pro,” X. J. Kennedy writes, “I vowed to make my work intensley sober.” There are many great poems by poets Roger Aplon, Denise Duhamel, and others. And, in short, my copy of the 20th Anniversary of Free Lunch has almost every page dog-eared with praise.