Alfred Nicol, “An Indelicate Proposal”

Rosalie Boyle / Norma Farber Award, selected by Wendy Drexler
Winning Poet: Alfred Nicol, “An Indelicate Proposal”


An Indelicate Proposal

Let us conscript an army of old men
and shake them from the napping-dream of peace;
let them rejoin the wars that never cease
and heat thin blood to simmering again.

When young men die in battle, more is lost.
By laying down their lives while they are strong
for fields they haven’t harvested as long,
they pay a lesser debt at greater cost.

So let us press the elders into service.
They will be recognized and celebrated,
no longer penned inside, emasculated,
clucking like old hens, ruffled and nervous,

ready for the freezer or the fryer.
What difference if the end is ice or fire?


Alfred Nicol
Alfred Nicol’s most recent collection of poetry is Animal Psalms (Able Muse Press, 2016). Nicol has published two other collections, Elegy for Everyone (2009), and Winter Light, which received the 2004 Richard Wilbur Award. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Commonweal, The Hopkins Review, and other literary journals. Visit