Today's poem is by David Lehman


Whatever your position, you will reverse it.
You will learn a new language and curse it.
Whatever your father says you'll oppose
and believe you're acting on principle.
If each lie added an inch to your nose
well, pal,
you won't come out smelling like a rose.

And that reminds me: though everyone picks on
the president who succeeded Lyndon Johnson,
the major difference between Richard Nixon
and a character in The Importance of Being Earnest
is that Nixon believes his lies
and Wilde's characters know they are fibbing,
they lie with a glint in their eyes,
they enjoy a good ribbing,
and then the falsehoods come true and
Jack who claimed to be Ernest is Ernest
in earnest and wins Joan Greenwood's hand.
And Richard Nixon remains Richard Nixon.

Copyright © 2007 David Lehman All rights reserved
from Southwest Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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