Tag Archives: love poems


Originally written 1999.

I want to climb to you
as if you were living in a tree house
and from there look out at the world
from your level

Even though I’m afraid of heights
and would be paralyzed
and clinging like a rug to the floor up there
I would give up safety
to try and see things your way

Pinned down like that
I might have enough time
to learn you

If I could stick a pin into myself
and use it to hold my form intact until the final stitch
or set one pin in place to hold my bones tight
or use one to make holes in my skin
to receive ink for primal tattoos
that would last crudely forever and speak of things
that I will later wish were clearer and sharper
If I could feel the sharpness
of all the pins that could hold me in one place
and through these pains begin to feel things your way

I would

I would fall off a ladder
by slipping on a banana peel

I would open the door
on a cartoon cliff and stand abashed
for just a second
in a canyon of white space
like a temporary Coyote
watching your Roadrunner dust

I would even do impressions of myself
until last call at an empty comedy club —
stop me if you’ve heard this one before

What I want is for you to become a season
(I vote for late spring
so I can anticipate a full summer’s heat whenever you approach)

What I want is to open my eyes in the morning
and immediately adore what I see

(when what I see is you)

What I want is to see your own desire come toward me
and split open a fresh box of white candles
then set them all to burning

What I want has a name
(your name 
the only name)

Sometimes when I hear your name
I feel like I’m passing a church on Christmas Eve
and I want to be there
walking with a censer
among the faithful

chanting your name
the only name
your name


Peace is a glimpse
of my partner
lying zig-zag and still
under our sheets, seen
in dim light as I rise
and tend to our insistent cats
at dawn,

reassuring me 
that once this is done
I can return to her side
and fall back to sleep
in as good a place as I can find
in this brightening,
frightening world. 

That there is still at least
one safe harbor 
is enough to let me
remain awake for now
and face the light
that comes now to reveal
what has lately come to power
during the night
from the dark.

Private Language

I am trying to explain the delicacy
of our private language
to a sparrow,

hoping the drab bird
will understand enough
to translate it

and let it pour 
across morning
outside our window.

I hope it will mean something.
I hope it will succeed 
in bringing what we say

into fuller being. 
I hope nature draws it in,
holds it close, passes it back.

I want to hear it in the rain.
I want you to hear it
in the rain and wind. 

I want what we whisper
to one another
to become a shout

everyone hears.
Make it a battle cry,
rally chant, holy song,

Love, you know:
what we say in secret 
to each other

could carry the world
if they could
understand it.

One Worn Shoe

What I can offer of myself
for you to hold onto here:

a worn shoe,
a loose tongue. Mileage
and incessant talk about 
mileage. I show
every step, every stumble,
and I won’t shut up.

One broken shoe,
clearly a discard.
Not worth picking up
from the pavement,
really; stories
spilling out from that floppy
tongue, out of holes
and near holes.

By their nature shoes
are not about hope
once they’re broken in,
instead are about trudging
and when there’s only one
they’re barely noticed unless
one trips over them and then?
Gone, trashed, tossed —

one worn shoe of a man.
Dust in the folds. Dim shine,
politely called patina.
The sole a tattered page.
I’ve been places, though,

and could go farther
even though there’s no reason I should,
even though it looks impossible
that I could go anywhere ever again — still,

how soft I’ve become.
How uniquely gentle I could be
to your touch.

Poems About Love

The man claimed
his poem was about love
but it was about 
fucking and only fucking.

We wanted love poems that smelled
of bullets and instead got this 
rose and mountain stream,
fresh bread and snowdrop scent. 

We wanted to hear love poems
about Babylon falling
and fires in the streets,
but instead got this wordy mess

about hydraulics and heat transfer, 
not at all the same as the fire 
we longed for. Love sometimes demands
a war song. Love is often

a hand up to a streeted body
and a slap across authority’s 
mouth, or at least it should be.
Love sometimes looks like 

riot wounds and how we tenderly
clasp another’s tired hands
in our own after a revolution,
but all this poet can say

is that he wants to be inside,
inside, when all we want of love
is for someone to bleed alongside us
as we fight to come in out of the cold.

You Coming Home

I come home, sit
by the window
at nightfall after the close
of a hard day,
hard month, 
hard year.

I wish there were
softer tidings
in the air.

I sit by the window,
imagine you
as the dawn
of softer days,
months, years;

sit straining to hear
whispers of
you coming home.

A Bowl Of Strawberries

Right now, 
somewhere not here,
there must be
a bowl of strawberries.
If they were here

I’d split them with you —

all I want is the tips.

You can have the rest
as long as

I can feel the
gentle rasp of each point
when I push my tongue
across them all
one by one

and then 
consume each tiny peak
slowly, individually.

can eat them as you wish:
forkfuls, spoonfuls,
handfuls at a time;

soak them down in nectar
or powder them with sugar
from crimson down to pink
before you begin;

they’re yours now,
do as you want, take
your own particular
pleasure in them;

I will as always
eat mine straight 
and pure without

slight bitter
under sweet,
sharp as the knowledge
that what I gave
was just as good
as what I held,

and both of us were satisfied.

The Mysterious Hanging Boulder

There is a difference
between knowing
the Mysterious Hanging Boulder

is safe and feeling it is safe.
You stand under it, smiling.
I take a picture.  

The sign
that says it’s balanced
on three points of pressure

and weighs tens of thousands 
of pounds is visible
just over your shoulder. 

In my head I get
how these things work and 
we both laugh and move on,

but I’m not in my head much 
these days. In my body
I’m terrified. What part of

balance suggests it lasts
forever? I’m nowhere near
strong enough to hold up

the rock, to lift it if it falls,
to do anything more than
document and scream.

The Mysterious Hanging Boulder
is going to be there a long while,
longer than we will, I think. But

I don’t think much these days.
I feel more than think and I feel
like I want to put an arm around you

and get us away from here, no matter
how stupid that seems, no matter
what the words on the sign

seem to promise about
stability and balance
and permanence.


Originally posted 11/1/2013.

To fall in love is to
gulp uncertainty
as if it were

fresh pineapple juice,
even if you
have never liked 
pineapple juice,  
even if you are 
allergic — to fall in love
is to fear deliciously as you
fall into wondering 
what will happen next.

To fall in love

is to burn the roast,
oversalt the potatoes,
boil the green beans
to mush, break 
the good china, then

as you sit there
in the ruins of 
a traditional family feast,
having watched all your relations
storm out to seek a meal

you pick up
one green bean,

stuff it in your mouth,
and ask yourself how
one green bean could have
escaped the carnage to be
perfect, and enough, 
how this one green bean became
sustenance enough
on its own;

to fall in love
is to swell with joy
and disbelief

at how
your questions
have been answered.


When I saw you first
I did not understand 
what to make of you

When I realized
it wasn’t my job
to do any making
I began to love you

When I loved you first
all I could think of
was building us a boat
and sailing away to
somewhere easier 

As if there is anywhere easier
than on the sea itself 
to learn love 

How it tosses you
How it can swallow you
in the moment
of its greatest beauty

How all of us are swallowed
by the same sea

It should not be as hard
to be ourselves in safety
as we make it for each other

It ought to be simple to flow
with what you feel you are
and let others flow

and unafraid

It should not be so hard
to step away from how
we’ve always funneled

each other’s identities
into such narrow
chutes and sluices

Listen to the crash and grind
That current pushing against
the walls we built to create it

We are drowning
trying to navigate the complexity 
we created

when it ought to be as simple
as you flow as you flow
and I will flow as I flow

cutting our natural beds 
into this good earth
Perhaps we’ll meet along the way

or perhaps not
but all flow goes to the sea eventually
All who flow go into the same sea

It’s not my place
to build against your flow

as it is not yours
to build against mine

As it is not our place
to stem any flow

No matter that we
act as if it were our place

As if any flow could be stopped

As if all flow 
doesn’t end up

in the same sea

For Weeks

We’re out
in the meadows
hiking although
there’s a predicted
likely chance of
torrents and thunder.

Ahead of us hours
of waiting, walking,
hanging on the movements
of every breeze-turned

I suggest we
might not want
to get our clothes
wet, and it might be
a fine idea
to take them off
while we’re waiting
and stow them in our
packs (which also make
fine pillows when filled).

You smile like
the light behind a long,

low cloud full of rain
when the ground
has been parched
for weeks.

What You Said

What you said to me —
not what you said, but how you said it,
in a voice like bees drowsing around the sill,
a murmur one hair above whisper; with
enough volume to pause me in mid-kiss
and make me pull back and see you
newly, wiping the sweat from my eyes
and re-opening them to see you again
as you were when we first met;
what you said
held me in a cloud, a mist of suspension,
slightly afraid of touching down and losing
this rising, this hovering as if by angels 
above the warm but finite earth, 
what you said
that is only recalled as tattoo upon my back,
as being there always but requiring a turn,
an effort to see it;
what you said.

Oh, what you said —

all I need now and always
is in what you said that day
that pulled me into you,
into my life that I call now


we two

the two of us 


Love Poem For A Wound

It appears
I have been shot again: 
silently as always, 
from afar as always,
with an ancient weapon
as always.

When an arrow enters
it breaks a path for blood
and for pain
but also for perfume
I forget I have within me
whenever I am between
such wounds.

I settle with a shiver
to my knees — calmer
than last time it happened
by a small degree,
gladder than last time
by far;

savoring gusts of 
lemon and honey, 
cinnamon and clove,
I close my eyes
to await the arrival 
of The Archer
who soon will come to see 
what has been
taken this time.

Soon enough the work will follow:
the work of kissing down this pain, 
binding this wound, helping me
to my feet, raising me to full 
height, pushing me to walk on changed 

and no longer alone, together
night-garden air.

Why You Should Have A Clock Radio

Originally posted 8-29-2012.

If you have a clock radio
next to your bed
and you happen to wake tomorrow
to a violin and a steady drum,
do not rise and step away
from the music
into the day too quickly,
thus occupying yourself
with the business of living
instead of the joy of it,
for how often does it happen
that you wake up early for work
with a sweet fiddle in your ear
and a lover next to you?  In fact,
don’t the soft drum
and the sidling of
that wicked, wicked bow
suggest something other than
getting up for work
as the only right way
to start the day?

Baggage Claim

I see certain faces
and think at once of long slogs
dragging broken-wheeled luggage
through vast airports.

I hear certain voices
and think of bad air in tight cabins,
drooling men snoring
on each of my middle seat shoulders.

Tonight feels like a routine room
in a routine hotel. I’m routinely eating
something routine, coating it in routine ketchup
from a routine little bottle.

I’ll write an ecstatic letter and read it to you 
when I get home, words packed 

with the same joy a lost bag feels
upon arriving at last where it belongs.