Poets Online Archive
Love Defined

Yevgeny Yevtushenko's poem, " When Your Face Dawned," (from The Collected Poems) is a love poem in two ways. It is a poem of love that is directed to someone and also it a poem defining love. While comparing his love to the dawn, he is also defining love for him as the fear of dawn's ending - an event that is then by definition inevitable and short-lived.

Your poem must accomplish these two things. Be both a love poem addressed to someone that also defines, at some point, love itself. 


Nor freeze me into lockjaw
drive me inward and away
nor staple my gaze to floorboards --
Soft your eyes draw me out
untie my tongue, unglue me --

Nor do I constant think, near you:
Perhaps I should not say
perhaps it's this that I should do
perhaps say this and not do that
nor stop to think, nor rush to think
What is the why of this or which the way

Monday, Octoberhearted eighty-six
Out the door and down the steps alone

Sleep sleep coffee sleep wait remember hope

Ron Lavalette


For years my mother saved a page
she'd clipped out of the news
with a photo of a honeybee
impaled upon a thorn.
On days when I could stand
to leave it there beneath her bed,
to know that it was there became enough.
Love, I won't be crass enough
to say you are the thorn,
the honeybee, the page,
my mother's fuzzy longing
for something strange and powerful,
the pull that deadly artifact
exerted on my blood,
or even the spark of synapse
that brought this all to mind
when I meant to write of you.
But knowing when I say
there was a bee dead on a thorn
in a photo mother kept beneath her bed,
that you will think first love
becomes enough.

R.G. Evans



I lie in bed and feel the cat's satiny smooth tail
as it gently rests against the curve of my back,
Through the open window
the early morning breeze toys with my hair
like your fingers stroking my scalp,
I recall your body kneeling over mine,
your tender touch on my legs and toes,
the serious look in your otherwise laughing eyes,
and how when your tongue met my face, my lips, my neck. . .
and our bodies slipped together as one,
I remembered a story you told me about a place you'd been to
and knew someday you'd return. . .
For me, this feeling with you, my love, is exactly the same.

Norma Ketzis Bernstock


We were only children;
neither of us yet aware
of love's begetting power.
Trailing my fingers in our little river, I said,
"I think I love you more than my own family"
My words would turn us upside down.=20
For me, they meant commitment.
For you, my orphan,
they opened up the floodgates
of the dam that had salvaged years of tears
from being wasted in the shallows
of our stream below.

"My own family?"
"Could there ever be such an entity?"
Could you ever bear to hold this thought
and thrust impassioned words of love at me?
As friendly playmates
we had walked upon the icy river,
stopping for a kiss or two or three.
We'd even fished that shallow Springtime stream;
but after my flood-begetting words, I said,
"Now it's safe to 'skinny-dip' here too."

The water, deeper now,
caressed our naked bodies
as we sliced the stream in two
and met as one beneath the surface to embrace.
Today we boldly share the undertow
that disturbs this once more-placid stream.
Instead, we tumble happily in turbulence
that manifests our valiant dream:
"We love our family!"
                                 (Even as our children swim away.)

Catherine M. LeGault


She told me all about it in high school.
We sat next to each other for three years
in the alphabetical homeroom of Fates.
Sophomore year she asked me,
when are you planning to grow up?
Junior year her hair was a longer blond
as was mine and we moved our desks closer
together, further from the idiots around us.

On a first date if you touch a woman
on her arm, above the wrist to the biceps,
that's a sign of warmth.
Touch her face, neck or feet
and you are coming on to her.
Watch out touching the head or waist -
it's confusing.
Anywhere else and you're pointing to sex.

I believed her. She was my only inside source.
We never dated, so we could talk about these things.
I could stroke the fine hair on her forearm.
She told me to let the woman do the talking.
Answer her question with a question about her.
I'd push her hair, stroke her neck. She'd laugh.
Keep your right eye on her right eye,
then switch your left to her left.

What about love? I asked her walking home,
a week before graduation, her arm around my waist.
When you don't have to think about the signs,
when your eyes just automatically meet.
She pulled me so our foreheads touched,
our lips brushed as she said,
When there are no more questions.
We pressed together
like a book closing
upon itself.

Ken Ronkowitz


Tonight in this "bedroom community" where I reside,
women with highlighted hair and pale French nails very
recently "done" push their new model babies and strollers.

Barbecue smells mix themselves above manicured lawns,
where older kids roll on the grass and teens just lean
against cars or hang out and talk and flirt on white porches.

I know they can't really be as serene as they seem,
but they do appear to know where they belong.

I am writing this poem to that person--I know you're
out there--who could make me feel like I'm home.

That person who'll dance all night to all kinds of music,
with or without a few beers, and will say (and mean it)
that even the heaviest sweat looks sexy on me.

That person who isn't freaked out when I say that small
red leaves on the hiking path look like drops of blood.

That person to love, who is love, who seeps love into my skin
like the purple soaking across this gray suburban sky tonight,
backlit by a most unexpected, glowing, gold crescent moon.

Svea Barrett-Tarleton


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