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By X J Kennedy

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.

Poet Bio

X J Kennedy
Born Joseph Charles Kennedy in Dover, New Jersey, X.J. Kennedy is as well known for his light verse and children’s poetry as he is for his more serious works. His 1961 collection Nude Descending a Staircase won the Lamont Award, and in 2001 Kennedy was awarded the Aiken Taylor Award for lifetime achievement in poetry. See More By This Poet

More By This Poet