Love poems, Uncategorized

Ok. I give in. Here are some love poems


Today is St. Valentines day, and inspired by poet Emily Blewitt who has posted some of her favourite love poems, here a few of my own favourites.

The first is by Robin Robertson, better know, I would suggest, for his powerfully visceral and dark re-writes of classical myths such as the death of Acteon.
This poem, Primavera is a simply beautiful poem expressing his love for his daughter Kate.

I don’t have a link to the second poem. It is from Rory Waterman’s Carcanet collection, ‘Tonight the Summer’s Over  ‘ and is called ‘In the Avenue of Limes.’
I have had the pleasure of reading with Rory several times, and we launched our first collection’s together in Nottingham. At Rory’s suggestion we each
read one of the others poems. I chose this one to read, for among other things its setting ( the lovers are in the National Arboretum) but mostly for it’s wonderful
repeated coda as we leave the couple in the eponymous avenue where’ autumn was falling/ in ceaseless drifts of twos/and fours..’ and ‘ I lost myself in you/
dashing to clutch at flurries/ of washed-out hearts. Dashing/ to clutch at flurries of washed-/ out hearts. Dashing to clutch/ at flurries of washed-out hearts.’

I love the Frank O’Hara’s 1959 poem, ‘Having a Coke with you’  I’m not going to explain why (does anyone need to explain why they love a Frank O’Hara poem?) except to say I think it is brave and again, beautiful. Here is Frank reading it.

I discovered Dannie Abse’s ‘Epithalmion’ when I was researching poems to read on an evening where, with two other poets, I selected and read some favourite love poems in a restaurant.
Dinner was included in the price and we had a wonderful evening!  I don’t recall exactly what I selected, but I know it I loved Abse’s poem at first sight. I also challenged myself to read John Donne’s ‘The Sun Rising’  over the profiteroles.

As we all discover if we are lucky, love is not just for the young. This poem is by the late great Tom Duddy who, before his premature death,  published some wonderful poems with Happenstance.  

Nights Out

Sometimes, when she and I find ourselves
seated just inside the door of the hotel bar,
two or three young women will come prancing in,

all innocence, high-booted glamour, and
dark-eyed casting about, and she must wonder
out of the corner of her eye if I may not be

taking in too much. If she only knew
what a heavenly and carnal peace I feel
as my thoughts withdraw from the bare,

emblazoned backs and sweep down towards
her dear pale hands at rest in her lap, one
cupped inside the other, palm resting open.

No women poets so far. Here is the marvellous Clare Pollard.  This poem is from her collection ‘Changeling’
The Caravan  .

And here is Miroslav Holub’s ‘Love’. This poem hit me as something completely different. I was a thirteen year old, not particularly interested in poetry. I still love it.

I love ‘Night in Arizona’ by Sarah Howe for it’s quiet, delicate and intense intimacy.

Then there is Edwin Morgan’s sexy ‘Strawberries’ ! And a poem by Maria Taylor that I can’t find at the moment. And ‘Before you Came’ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. And ‘Nativity’ by Sheri Benning  .But time is running out and I must away before the clock strikes again and so finally, because Emily got me started on this, here is one of her poems, featured here in January 2015.

My Colours, by Emily Blewit

First, on my right forearm, a peacock in jade and gold
so when I flick my wrist its feathers unfold
and fan out like the winning hand at cards;

On my left breast, in oyster-grey,
beats the anatomical diagram of a heart;

A tiger’s fierce orange and black stripes stalk my back
to hide the scars, while in plain sight
between my shoulder blades two white wings take off;

On my collarbone a cicada sings
in yellow glory to crimson catkins;

On my right breast, Blodeuwedd, the owl girl with amber eyes
becomes lilac, lavender, foxgloves, daisies,
and above my womb the moon waits in all her phases;

Coiled around my inner thigh a snake hisses, bottle-green,
while at my hips, macaws kiss;

On my right foot, a greyhound sprints straight off the blocks;
At my left heel curls a brown hare and an orange fox;

A mandala in Indian sand circles my elbow;
On my ring finger glitters a diamond in rose gold;

I am strawberry blonde and oriental raven,
an ephemera of red kites wheeling through stormy skies;

Love, when I show you my colours
I am a riot, a cacophony, a bird of paradise, a polka

on mosaic tiles, a gilded kingfisher diving blue.



Something about Frank O’Hara

A couple of years ago I read and enjoyed Frank O’Hara’s ‘Lunch poems’ for the first time.

Lunch poems

Intrigued, I looked up details of O’Hara’s life and discovered that he was active in the New York art world of the 1950’s, working as a reviewer for the journal Artnews. In 1960, he became assistant curator of painting and sculpture exhibitions for the Museum of Modern art. O’Hara was also friends with artists such as Williem de Kooning, Norman Bluhm, Larry Rivers and Joan Mitchell.

Around the time I was reading O’Hara, I came across an article about abstract art. The writer recounted a scene from around the turn of the millennium in which a discussion took place about who made the first abstract art. Unfortunately I can remember neither the scource of the article nor the writer’s name. The poem below began by using detail from the text, so it’s partially a ‘found poem’ and I’d like to reference the text if I could locate it again. To develop the poem into something relevant to O’Hara, I did some research into abstract art history and omitted and added abstract artists to form a new conversation. I looked up knowledgeable contemporaries and friends from O’Hara’s art scene to provide the characters in the piece, and put them in the car with him. I added period voices and period detail.

New Jersy Turnpike

The poem is voiced by O’Hara, and I attempted to capture some of the immediacy of his writing style, and perhaps some of the tone he uses in some of his poems. Although O’Hara’s poems are often fun and funny, as by all accounts, was he, I find several of them strangely haunted and emotionally affecting.


I wonder if his wartime experience as a sonar operator in a submarine may have lain beneath his often urbane and ironic style. Another poem I wrote around the same time, ‘Sardines’, explores this idea a little.

The poem I’m sharing here was described by someone I showed it to as a pastiche. I think I’m happy with that description, as it is meant to celebrate  O’Hara and his interest as well as making a serious point about the ancient origins of supposedly ‘modern’ art.

I rediscovered the poem while browsing old files on my computer this evening.  It doesn’t really fit in my new book, so I’m giving it an airing here.  A version of the poem was previously published in Sheffield Hallam’s Matter  magazine in 2014. Thanks for reading.

Frank O’Hara Talks Abstract Art

I recall driving back to Manhattan
on the New Jersey Turnpike the day after
New Year’s, the heater jammed on high,
rain turning to sleet and hitting the windshield
like cloud borne jellyfish between wiper blade sweeps.
That’s when Henry asked, who made the first abstract?
I said Kandinsky, and Henry said Kupka came before him
and that Arthur Dove showed oil studies to Seiglitz
in nineteen-ten, way before Malevich or Mondrian.
I was wearing my leather hat, the one with the flaps,
a gift from Joan Mitchell before she went back to Paris.
I said Serusier made his Talisan painting
in the eighteen-eighties. Henry replied that was just
one painting, and anyway it’s still a landscape. Al Martino
came on the radio and Henry grumbled, jeez, why not spin
some Charlie Parker or Dizzy Gillespie. I remarked that
Victor Hugo drew abstracts in the eighteen-fifties
while Henry packed his pipe and I said I hope
you’re not going to light that. Then we argued about
Besant and Leadbetter who made their Thought Forms
in nineteen hundred and five. Henry said those weren’t
really paintings at all. I mentioned Hilma Af Klint
and her Paintings From The Temple series
and that’s when Hal Forden woke up in the back,
his big face creased from the leatherette seat
and told us we were both fools and asked
what about the Peruvian carpet makers
and the Mayans and the Tantra painters
and the American Indian rock painters
and the Aboriginal dream-time bark painters
and then he told us we’d just missed
the Lincoln Tunnel exit.


Woman paying bills