What Men Wrote About Beauty.

I have never seen such an animal

except perhaps once,

but that is another story--

there it stood,

no lion

yet no dog

no deer yet deer

frozen nose

and eye, all eye gathering all the

moonlight that hung in the trees;

and everywhere the people slept;

I saw bombers over Brazil,

cathedrals choked in silk,

the gray dice of Vegas,

a Van Gogh over the kitchen sink.


home, I poured a drink

took off my gloves           you god damned thing

why could you have not been a woman

with all your beauty,

with all your beauty

I have not found her yet.



Charles Bukowski, night animal


 My father moved patiently

cupping his hands beneath his chin,

            kneeling on a janamaz


then pressing his forehead to a circle

            of Karbala clay. Occasionally

he’d glance over at my clumsy mirroring,


            my too-big Packers t-shirt

and pebble-red shorts,

            and smile a little, despite himself.


Bending there with his whole form

            marbled in light, he looked like

a photograph of a famous ghost.


I ached to be so beautiful.

I hardly knew anything yet —

            not the boiling point of water


or the capital of Iran,

            not the five pillars of Islam

or the Verse of the Sword —


            I knew only that I wanted

to be like him,

            that twilit stripe of father


mesmerizing as the bluewhite Iznik tile

            hanging in our kitchen, worshipped

as the long faultless tongue of God.


Kaveh Akbar, Learning to Pray

You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting ‘Vanity,’ thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure.

John Berger, Ways of Seeing


No, we could not itemize the list
of sins they can’t forgive us.
The beautiful don’t lack the wound.
It is always beginning to snow.

Of sins they can’t forgive us
speech is beautifully useless.
It is always beginning to snow.
The beautiful know this.

Speech is beautifully useless.
They are the damned.
The beautiful know this.
They stand around unnatural as statuary.

They are the damned.
and so their sadness is perfect,
delicate as an egg placed in your palm.
Hard, it is decorated with their face

and so their sadness is perfect.
The beautiful don’t lack the wound.
Hard, it is decorated with their face.
No, we could not itemize the list.

Nick Laird, On Beauty

I bought a dishmop-- 
having no daughter-- 
for they had twisted
fine ribbons of shining copper
about white twine
and made a tousled head
of it, fastened it
upon a turned ash stick
slender at the neck
straight, tall-- 
when tied upright
on the brass wallbracket
to be a light for me
and naked
as a girl should seem
to her father.

William Carlos Williams, Youth and Beauty



Whenever a good-looking secretary walks down the aisle at 

Goodstone Aircraft Company,

the machinists make a point of staring at her

from the moment they spot her. 

They move around their machines

to keep her tits and ass and thighs 

in view, 

making sure that it is obvious

they are watching her. 

They drift away from their machines, 

sticking their necks out into the aisle

to keep her in view

until she is out the door of the building. 

Then they let out with shrill whistles, 

shaking their heads and hands

and going limp all over as if they were about to collapse,

making sure that everyone knows

how much their lustful minds sucked in

every inch of every curve on her body,

competing with each other

to see who

can stagger and whistle and maintain

their open-mouthed black-eyed look

the longest,

glancing about at each other

to take stock of the results. 

Finally, when it is safe to quit whistling and moaning

tributes to her body, 

they return to their machines,

reassured that they have once again passed

the test.

Fred Voss, The Inspection