Liz’s Weekend Poetry Series: Love

by lizard

Love poems. When I hear that term, part of me cringes. Sickeningly sweet sentimental Hallmark verse quickly comes to mind. Bah, say us modern cynics who keep our romanticism safely caged up, stashed away.

But love poetry is doing just fine, because love is a force that will outlive the crude urge to commodify; this cynical age of late stage Capitalism won’t last forever.

So in that spirit, here are four love poems; three I’ve selected from my library, and one @Lgpguin suggested via tweet. Then I’m off to the wedding that inspired this week’s theme.



We could never really say what it is like,
this hour of drinking wine together
on a hot summer night, in the living room
with the windows open, in our underwear,
my pants with pale-gold gibbon monkeys on them
gleaming in the heat. We talk about our son
disappearing between the pine boughs,
we could not tell what was chrysalis or
bough and what was him. The wine
is powerful, each mouthful holds
for a moment its amber agate shape,
I think of the sweat I sipped from my father’s
forehead the hour before his death. We talk about
those last days—that I was waiting for him to die.
You are lying on the couch, your underpants
a luminous white, your hand resting
relaxed, alongside your penis,
we talk about your father’s illness,
your nipple like a pure circle of
something risen to the surface of your chest.
Even if we wanted to,
we could not describe it,
the end of the second glass when I sometimes
weep and you start to get sleepy—I love
to drink and cry with you, and end up
sobbing to a sleeping man, your
long body filling the couch and
draped slightly over the ends, the
untrained soft singing of your snore, it cannot be given.
Yes, we know we will make love, but we’re
not getting ready to make love,
nor are we getting over making love,
love is simply our element,
it is the summer night, we are in it.

—Sharon Olds



You are granite.
I am an empty wineglass.

You know what happens when we touch!
You laugh like the sun coming up laughs
at a star that disappears into it.

Love opens my chest, and thought
returns to its confines.

Patience and rational consideration leave.
Only passion stays, whimpering and feverish.

Some men fall down in the road like dregs thrown out.
Then, totally reckless, the next morning

they gallop out with new purposes. Love
is the reality, and poetry is the drum

that calls us to that. Don’t keep complaining
about loneliness! Let the fear-language of that theme

crack open and float away. Let the priest come down
from his tower, and not go back up!

(translated by Coleman Barks)



The night my mother died
she said to me on the phone,
“Come down, I am going to have to go
to the hospital.”

We visited a while
in her trailer house when I got there.
She was not unhappy,
but in pain.

“Cancer is proof there is no God,”
she said, defying me to argue.
“What will I do?” I asked,
agnostic, middle-aged and insecure,
“If you make a die of it?”
We talked that way, but this time
I made her angry.
Perhaps even bored her.

She said with an odd laugh,
“Maybe it will make a man of you.”
Then we sat in silence, until
I knew, though blind,

she could see the tears in my eyes.
She said, sternly then,
“Keep writing,” as though
she were speaking to a fool.

On the way to the hospital
she added, “In the morning,
if I am still alive,
bring me a comb for my hair.”

—Ed Lahey



Sooner or later
we must come to the end
of striving

to re-establish
the image the image of
the rose

but not yet
you say extending the
time indefinitely

your love until a whole

the violet to the very

and so by
your love the very sun
itself is revived

—William Carlos Williams



The poetic reading at the wedding tonight was Pablo Neruda:


I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
Or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
Secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other
Way of loving

But this, in which there is no I or you,
So intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
So intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eye that

—Pablo Neruda

  1. Ingemar Johansson

    Drunkard’s Love

    The horse and the mule live thirty years
    And nothing know of wines and beers.

    The goats and sheep at twenty die
    With never a taste of scotch or rye.

    The cow drinks water by the ton
    And at eighteen is mostly done.

    The dog at sixteen cashes in
    Without the aid of rum or gin.

    The cat in milk and water soaks
    And then in twelve short years it croaks.

    The sober, modest, bone-dry hen
    Lays eggs for nogs, then dies at ten.

    The animals are strictly dry
    They sinless live and swiftly die.

    But sinful, ginful, rum-soaked men
    Survive for three score years and ten.
    By apotheosis

  2. lizard19


    you stand like obelisk
    reflective dark screen
    I finger your button
    and admire the speed
    of the image I picked
    my two dogs in a field
    I slide to unlock you
    you willingly yield
    messages, calendars,
    photos and maps
    music and games
    weather and apps
    I move the screen over
    with barely a flick
    a full list of psych drugs
    and virtual glowsticks
    I catch coy fish in ponds
    keep tabs on offenders
    both sexual and violent
    the hate it engenders
    and then I pay bills
    and then I play tetris
    jam with my jukebox
    connection, the nexus
    is offered to me
    as long as I know
    it’s got me wrapped tight
    wherever I go

  3. Blue Eyed Elaine
    �Ernest Tubb

    Side by side we’ll roll along, sweetheart you and I
    And to you I’ll sing this song as the years go passing by
    I may be good or I may be bad but you never frown
    I couldn’t find a sweeter pal if I’d searched the whole world around

    Blue eyed Elaine you’re the sweetest thing and I love you so
    And you’ll always be the same no matter where we go
    We’ll travel here we’ll travel there and we’ll never part
    You’ll always be my blue eyed Elaine and I’ll be your sweetheart

    [ guitar instrumental ]

    When skies are grey and things go wrong we’ll never fret nor sigh
    But we’ll just keep traveling on with our heads held up high
    And when I gaze into your eyes your heart and soul are plain
    And you know the reason why I love you blue eyed Elaine

    Blue eyed Elaine you’re the sweetest thing and I love you so
    And you’ll always be the same no matter where we go
    We’ll travel here we’ll travel there and we’ll never part
    You’ll always be my blue eyed Elaine and I’ll be your sweetheart

  4. ruthie

    Thanks, Lizard. Even a blog of ol’ lefties cannot live by socio-political-enviro-rantings alone! :) I especially appreciate the variety of era, gender, theme, style you chose. The comments only added to that.
    Best poetry post yet! Also …. FYI — For those who want to pay tribute to Ed Lahey, the memorial gathering is this Saturday, June 25, at University Congregational Church in Missoula, 405 University Avenue. It’s at 2 p.m.

  1. 1 An April Feast Of Poetry « 4&20 blackbirds

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    […] Love […]

  3. 3 152 Poetry Posts to Celebrate April, National Poetry Month | 4&20 blackbirds

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