In the summer of 1974, the Nixon administration was forced to turn over secret tape recordings implicating Nixon himself in the Watergate scandal. Americans were then faced with two major revelations: their president had acted with criminal intent in one of the most famous scandals in U.S. history, and was maybe a poetic genius.
Nixon's lyrical prowess was recognized by at least one American, at least. Jack S. Margolis, a counterculture writer, used the tapes to unmask the president's hidden talents in a small volume published by Cliff House Books later that year. The Poetry of Richard Milhaus Nixon includes such spirited lines as, "The position is / To withhold / Information / And to cover up," from a work titled "The Position."
Another poem, "Together," is republished below.
We are all
A few shots
It will be over.
Want to be
On the other side
-"Together," by Richard M. Nixon
This was perhaps the first time -- but wouldn't be the last -- that Nixon's life inspired art. Songs have been sung by the likes of Stevie Wonder and James Taylor. Films have been made in genres spanning from documentary to Oscar-nominated drama to whatever this is. Plastic likenesses have been worn to a million Halloween parties. Fittingly, this virtuoso-slash-muse helped round up support for the National Endowment for the Arts during his time in office. (Although he may have only done it to appease others who weren't happy with his foreign policy decisions.)
Unfortunately, despite its great historical significance, the poetry compilation has gone out of print. (You may, however, purchase a copy for $125.77!) Margolis went on to co-author a detailed handbook for marijuana use titled A Child's Garden of Grass, transitioning seamlessly to herbal pedagogue from his role as a secondhand poet.
For more elegant verse by the only U.S. president to resign in office, head to The Paris Review.