August 6, 2004

Our secret's safe and still well kept where even Richard Nixon has got soul

Three poems by Leonard Nathan:


Through an open window of late summer evening
a woman cries, Ah-ah-AH!

Neighbors pause, blush perhaps, then go on
with their homely chores, smiling to themselves.

What do you do with this—another’s shameless,
lonely ecstasy? Or your own? I put

a tape of Mozart on to cover our confusion.

Testament of Beauty

You know how the boys next morning talk: they say
They've had exquisite virgins by the gross
And drunk the center of the city dry.
They wink and write their bragging off to loss.

Maybe a single bare bulb overhead
Has fouled their fantasies with dirty light;
Or maybe the bony girl they coldly had
Required a dry bed for one rainy night.

We've felt taht idiot pang, come dawn, and pulled
The covers to our chins. The truth of it
Sounds in the coughing of a petty cold
Contracted in the bottom of some pit.

By noon, of course, the world was gold unspent,
And young, with nothing yet quite real to do,
We made a kind of sorry testament,
Lying for beauty better than we knew.


A weather of crows and kites
The mailman left no mail,
My head is stunned by the sky,
And where will I get a style?

That one has lent me this,
This one has lent me that,
The head that aches is my own
But I've filched this flop of a hat.

These kites are birds, not toys,
Their beaks are hooked to rip,
Maybe a pen should be hooked,
But love has a blunting lip.

The crow comes walloping down,
He has snached a -- what from that pile?
My head is full of the weather
And the weather has no style.

Or is war the minimal style?
A Hell of a note to whistle,
But the crow invaded at dawn,
And the kite angles in like a missile.


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