Here are some poems centered around love that I wrote four or more decades ago but didn’t include in my previous poem collection posts. Once again, the date is that of original composition.
1. February 21, 1975
Long after I wrote this poem, I heard a line attributed to Virginia Woolf, though I could never verify it, to the effect that beauty is a matter of millimeters.
Your hair is a cloth of strands
Joined snugly to your baldness.
Your limbs are pushed-out parts
Extensions of your torso
Sometimes this is how it seems
Walking at your side,
Marveling that you
Could be so lovely.
2. November 5, 1975
What is it about thoughts of love that can bring out an author’s cavalier side?
To a Lady
If you ever dreamt
Of an errant knight
Who bears your colors on his shield;
If you ever wept
For a poet’s plight
In sonnets sad that love must yield;
Or as the morning subway speeds,
You scour the papers for a sight
Of lancers off on daring deeds;
If you ever prayed
In a long and lonely night
That your admirer be revealed:
Then harken to this hero’s cry,
M’lady, let your standard fly!
3. August 1977
On that date, the “door” was unlocked. I must have a contrarian in me.
What keys unlock
Doors like this?
What guard forbids us
Two people talking,
Mouse and fish‑‑
It’s surely not what
You would wish?
4. March 1978
The first move can feel fraudulent.
Though I’ve calculated how to charm you;
Though I’ve combed my hair and laundered;
Though I’ve waited for your moment
Still, I feel we chose each other.
Seeking some response,
I give a compliment,
Contrived as any poem.
Still, I feel I am sincere.
5. Late winter, 1981
Memory might not require great significance. A sensual moment can lodge there for no reason other than its sensuality.
Knowing you’re waiting tingles
In the night and highway traffic
As I race up five outdoor
Flights of steps,
Shoes clopping on stone.
Like an amiable sentry,
Your window gestures to your door
Where you stand, dressed for night,
Embrace and show me in.
6. April 19, 1981
When we end a relationship, we lose a friend. Like most cliches, it can be true.
Talking on the phone,
She sprawls in my lap,
Hem of her skirt at her hips.
I chastely stroke her hair.
She, who says a woman’s weapon
Is her tears, puts down
The phone and cries,
Desolate as a child.
We sit together as I trace
Moist trenches with Kleenex,
In a truce of fading passion.
7. April 19, 1981
Was our love meant just to tease us
Like a day in early spring
When the sun is warm
But veiled by mist?
I said it late one Friday.
She turned her back.
Fearing words of sorrow
Would help only me,
I said goodnight
And closed the door
Like an amputation.
8. October 4, 1981
A sample of love’s specious logic?
A Vine and a Wall
A perfect vine
Wouldn’t ask the motive of a wall
That let it cling.
A perfect wall
Would lend support in gratitude
For the vine’s trust.
9. August 28, 1982
I conclude with a poem I wrote for a friend’s wedding and read aloud at the church ceremony.
They were amazed that something so abstract
As a contract carried so much joy,
That something less perceptible than mist
Would so affect their separate lives.
But they thought lightly of it when they met
And eased themselves toward it through the months
With afternoon walks and drawn‑out dinners.
One day he proposed and she accepted:
The contract drew around them like a spell.
A man who wedded years ago,
Knowing marriage is a monument
Exposed to passersby and weather,
Whose mortar threatens to crumble, its bricks
To dislodge, its beams to creak,
And knowing its constant need of restoration:
This man said that couples only start to love
Ten years into marriage:
A lovely thought‑‑that something beautiful
Sometimes becomes still more,
If differently, beautiful.
Here, at this consecration,
On an ordinary summer’s day,
These two people want us to affirm
Their submission to authorities
Beyond our understanding.
Let him ask
And let her answer once again
To cast the spell forever.