Nicholas D. Nace
                                     Fine Times with the Girls without Fortunes
                                          The red painted birds
of Amsterdam
standing under the clock
pecked the crumbs
from my warm pocket

They talked to me with broken smiles
half-friend, half-foreign, all free
And knew the ancient dialect of looks
That said, I shall blush for thee.

They professed with a fan
their desire
of having more
lasting acquaintance
helping conduct the business
of my trip to town
by flaunting beside me
with red topknots
soft-modest, alluring,
and free

First put one penny in my purse

Twenty times more genteel
than the subjects

of halfpenny romances
covered with bosoms
whose each fickle art
warmed like cordials
taken as decoy
into my system
a slow rising fever
that spread to each part
yet one I dearly wished
to relieve

First put one penny in my purse

My pleasure was almost
Unspeakable
except by opposite tones
of reproof
as I give in my Sunday sermons
to those who partake
without the intenseness
the warmth or the warmth
of such throbbing
disapprobation as mine

First put one penny in my purse

“My dear deluded flock,” I say,
as I counterfeit false resentment

with my hair brushed out
and blooming from pocket
to invite their touch on my cheek,
“I wish to reproach your baseness.”

I talked to them with broken smiles
half-friend, half-foreign, all free
And knew the ancient dialect of looks
That said, I shall blush for thee.


                          Found Numbers
​                              Of the blackbirds that so agreeably entertained us,
two angles of a triangle are equal to
three strange wants,
dispatching four of his domestics to seize me.
I threw a deuce ace five times running
in about six hours returned with a verbal answer;
they were drawn with seven oranges
to six or eight wives more.
The colt that has been in our family these nine years—​​
scarce a farmer’s daughter within ten miles round—​​
our cock, which always crew at eleven,
after an interval of twelve years.

At fourteen, I knew the world, cocked my hat, and loved the ladies,
took likenesses for fifteen shillings a head.
Thou art now sixteen years old,
counterfeiting every age from seventeen.


Nicholas D. Nace is the editor of two volumes of essays on the art of close reading: Shakespeare Up Close (2012) and The Fate of Difficulty (forthcoming 2017). He has written for The Burlington MagazineThe Book Collector, and other journals. Other poems from his first collection are forthcoming from FenceRabbit, and the Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review.