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LeVieux Gets the Best of His Better Sense, Caritas et Amor and The Adversary’s Adages, three poems by Alfred Nichol




LeVieux Gets the Best of His Better Sense



She warmed to me; I’ll live another day.

I’ll love another time, apparently.

You’re older than her dad, who passed away.

Try not to bring that up again, okay?—

This hour begins a golden age, for me.

Or better, silver. Something close to grey.


She works in town. The sun and I gave chase.

Her heels rose up the elevator shaft.

You’re out of breath, poor man, red in the face.

You’ve climbed two flights already. Quit the race.

She glanced my way in passing and she laughed.

Her sigh secured my heart in its embrace.


Not every exhalation is a sigh.

And every fool who’s gladdest when he’s fooled

is sadder when he’s wiser by and by.

Then I’ll resolve to grow no wiser. I

am not a schoolboy, granted. Why be schooled?

I’ve insufficient flesh to mortify.



Caritas et Amor



I thumbed a paperback Lives of the Saints

(The heat rose halo-like around your skin),

curious to know whose holiday

we celebrated, drinking wine: two


obscure men, Arab brothers, grey within

“the cloud of witnesses above our heads.”

Cosmus and Damian—who’s heard of them?—

said to exemplify the many who


are known only to God. All night we lay

discovering ourselves to one another;

we knelt to play. Would you be known as well

if Fra Angelico had painted you


beatific at San Marco, pale and thin,

betrothed to silence, loved another way?




The Adversary’s Adages


There’s better devils than the one you know.

We catch our flies with vinegar. We teach

old gods new tricks. We ruin before we walk.

Our ignorance is cheap; our bliss is talk.

The truth wears out. We fracture what we preach:

Judge the tree where money doesn’t grow.

Waste and want. Gut the golden goose.

Or spill the milk and cry No use! No use!


One I have we; the blind have made us king.

Blood is thicker than skin deep, you see.

Where there’s a wake, be keen to read the will.

Shoot the messenger. There’s time to kill.

What’s done cannot be said so easily.

Those born to hang are drowning: drink and sing.

The skull laughs best who grins from ear to ear.

Fear itself is all we have, my dear.