In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus One Day by X.J. Kennedy is an interesting poem with intriguing details. After receiving teasing over his name’s resemblance to that of US Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, Joseph Kennedy acquired the surname, X.J. Kennedy. Kennedy’s work spans a wide range of genres, including works for children, adolescents, college students, and adults. His poetry is primarily joyful and hilarious. However, other of his poems are more introspective and solemn.
Although there is a narrator in the first and last stanzas of this poem, the primary speaker is a lady who sings about her misfortune. We learn about her history and present life through her words. Kennedy presents the poetry in a fun style. Each verse rhymes, and phrases such as “With a spotless tablecloth for each mouthful I did take” and “Ah, there never dropped snot, but a small gold rose” are exaggerated to enhance the witty description (Mays, 2019). Even the title is amusing because Secaucus, New Jersey, is a little town that few people are familiar with unless one lived there. Despite the amusing components, the poem’s subject is serious.
The woman used to live lavishly, but now she lives modestly. The “high cost of rubbish” refers to living and buying goods on the surface, but she also refers to her own life on a deeper level (Mays, 2019). Her opulence influenced how she lived, and her descent into opulence is dramatic and exaggerated. While she was probably not as affluent as she claims, her downfall was significant enough to shift her attitude on life from bright and prosperous to sour and miserable.
The most important element of the poem seems to be its sound. The author often employs words that begin with the same letter, namely, alliteration. For example, “to fight if I flicked” and “bottle beer” are devices to emphasize particular fragments of the poem (Mays, 2019). Moreover, some words are placed closely to each other, which have similar sounding, such as “rusts with its grass” (Mays, 2019). These combinations are not necessarily meaningful but serve to make the poetic language different from the prose and exaggerate the narration’s aesthetics.
Mays, K. J. (2019). The Norton Introduction to Literature. W.W. Norton.