For X. J. Kennedy, approaching his ninetieth birthday

X marks the spot where wit is found,
Where puckish turns of phrase abound,
Allowing readers—ill, in debt,
Or stuck with Fluffy at the vet—
To have their sorrows so well drowned,
                  Their socks get wet.

X designates the sacred ground
Upon which ballads might resound
So crisply (like a fresh baguette!)
And smoothly (like a Gulfstream jet!)
They’ll later work their way around
                  The internet.

Behind it all? A soul renowned
For charm and patience that astound;
For shrewd critiques that make us sweat;
For kindness that, it’s safe to bet,
One day will get him winged and gowned—
                  But please, not yet.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 37 Number 9, on page 26
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