Our Greatest President-Poet

The Poetry of Richard Milhous Nixon, a slim volume compiled by Jack S. Margolis and published in 1974, stands as a seminal work in verse. Comprising direct excerpts from the Watergate tapes—arguably the most fecund stage of Nixon’s career—it fuses the rugged rhetoric of statesmanship to the lithe contours of song, all rendered in assured, supple, poignant free verse. Below, to celebrate Presidents’ Day, are four selections from this historic chapbook, which has, lamentably, slipped out of print.

 

 

THE POSITION

The position is

To withhold

Information

And to cover up

This is

Totally true.

You could say

This is

Totally untrue.

 

TOGETHER

We are all

In it

Together.

We take

A few shots

And

It will be over.

Don’t worry.

I wouldn’t

Want to be

On the other side

Right now.

 

IN THE END

In the end

We are going

To be bled

To death.

And in the end,

It is all going

To come out anyway.

Then you get the worst

Of both worlds.

(via Paris Review)