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Saturday, August 21, 2021

'Only Emotion Endures'

 “In poetry, only emotion endures.” – X.J. Kennedy


Born in Dover, NJ on this date in 1929, poet and children’s book author X.J. (Joseph Charles) Kennedy once noted that he “write[s] for three separate audiences: children, college students who use textbooks, and that small band of people who still read poetry.”


He is the author of numerous poetry collections, including Fits of Concision: Collected Poems of Six or Fewer Lines, Dark Horses: New Poems, and Breaking and Entering. His many works for young audiences include Exploding Gravy: Poems to Make You Laugh. 


Kennedy earned degrees from Seton Hall and Columbia University before beginning his long writing career.  For Saturday’s Poem, from his 1961 poetry book Nude Descending a Staircase (winner of the Lamont Poetry Prize - now the James Laughlin Award) here is Kennedy’s title poem,  


Nude Descending a Staircase


Toe after toe, a snowing flesh,
a gold of lemon, root and rind,
she sifts in sunlight down the stairs
with nothing on. Nor on her mind.

We spy beneath the banister
a constant thresh of thigh on thigh;
her lips imprint the swinging air
that parts to let her parts go by.


One-woman waterfall, she wears
her slow descent like a long cape
and pausing on the final stair,
collects her motions into shape.




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