cover image Peeping Tom's Cabin: Comic Verse 1928-2008

Peeping Tom's Cabin: Comic Verse 1928-2008

X. J. Kennedy. BOA Editions, $17 (118pp) ISBN 978-1-929918-96-6

Accompanying Kennedy's forthcoming selected (serious) poems, this agreeably cantankerous, occasionally laugh-out-loud-funny volume gathers brief parodies, barbed rhymes, naughty couplets and other assorted not-so-serious verse, dating (despite the title) from 1956 to the present. Kennedy serves up, among other poems, 46 limericks, 19 clerihews, assorted off-color jokes, rewritten popular songs from the pre-rock era (""Suburban lawns with moles,/ Things full of holes/ Remind me of you"") and ""Mary Had a Little Lamb"" rewritten in the style of Sylvia Plath. Kennedy (The Lords of Misrule ) also offers ""ghastly brats"" (poems too grisly for, but otherwise suited to, his three collections of children's verse) and a portrait of Sigmund Freud as Santa Claus. The volume seems less substantial than most collections of light verse (perhaps because Kennedy's greatest wits have been relegated to a companion volume); some of the jokes about sex and drink sound dated. Yet this lighter side of Kennedy should please fans of John Updike's verse or of the line of mid-century upscale rhyming-from Cole Porter to theNew Yorker -to which most of these poems belong.(Sept.)