Poets Online Archive


Stupid Love

August 2012

A man risked his life to write the words. Unfortunately, instead of the intended "I Love You Sweetheart," he left the message "I love Your Sweatheart" which became the title of Thomas Luxi's poem, "I Love You Sweatheart" (from New and Selected Poems of Thomas Lux: 1975-1995i). To Lux, the man's message is still "blessed."

The stupid things we do for love. Hanging above the highway spraypainting our love poem. They may be all the more cherished for the bravery that stupidity sometimes requires. Perhaps, the sweat of one heart is what made the act all the sweeter. Maybe it is just poor spelling. Maybe the intended never saw the message. Or laughed at it and did not laugh with him.

Write a poem about how stupid we can be when we are in love. Stupid love.

For more on this prompt and others, visit the Poets Online blog.


To play good music
you must fall hopelessly
in love with every note.
Looking beyond the printed
symbols on the page,
you must direct your full attention
to each one as they flutter curiously
by your passion and imagination.
You must tune your senses to
those divas singing harmonies
inaudible to other ears.
And then you must weep at your own
clumsy attempts at wooing them,
at bending them to your will.
For they will surely break your heart
while showing you their beauty,
and you desperately become
the fool of their desiring.
Only in the tension of such paradox
can you capture the very first note
and all that come thereafter.
Oh unhappy lover, be warned!
It is an all consuming madness,
a stupid kind of love,
this reaching for the ineffable.
But ah...the music, the music!

Maddison Ross


He went up to the poet after her reading
and told her he loved her breasts
poem. He paused after the word breasts
as though it came at the end of a line
in a poem about breasts. He was being
silly and also serious the way
breasts are silly and serious but she
didn’t see it that way. She was
a very serious poet and she didn’t
crack a smile. But her breasts poem
was full of the pleasures of connotations,
which he couldn’t get out of his head—
jounce, for example, which sounds like
joust, which carries with it pictures
of women bouncing up and down on horseback
carrying poles under their armpits
(called lances in the parlance of knights
at a tournament), the perfect word
for when a female passes by like
a song, like a poem with all the right words
in all the right places and he can’t
get it out of his head, and he wants
to bash his head against another male head
just to get it out of his system because
whether he dies or whether he gets the girl
with the jouncing breasts, either way,
he will feel a hell of a lot better
than sitting around at a lousy poetry reading
in a flimsy folding chair, squirming
with desire for those lovely breasts rising
and falling, the lungs beneath them filling
with the poem as the poem fills his head.

Paul Hostovsky


Would you rather be right than be loved?
That was the motto of the family I was about to be taken into.
Nod in agreement with the most outrageous comments.
Silently bite your tongue.
Everyone has an equal chance to make it big.
Work hard and follow the rules. And you can become a Steve Jobs.
They know what I think. Paul Ryan? He has nice hair.
Fiscal conservative. Or prime the pump with Krugman?
Speak up. Speak out.
The silliest thing I did for love was marry.

Ellen Kaplan


If it was only saying that stupid things are done
For love when in love, it would be simple.
When one is supposed to write them out
With beginning, middle and end as a tale
They become an interrogatory. I am
Witness with hands on testis as in giving
Testimony but my saying nothing.
Reminds me of what I might have said;
Those feelings have fallen as last year's leaves
Among the cold flakes of snow.

As many stupid things it did not seem stupid;
It was being cautious, as my aunt said,
"When in doubt do without."
It was not wisdom but weakness to listen
To those proverbs or stale aphorisms
In a manner of speaking they are right
But it was only a submissive delay
To think I was being reasonable.

So fifty years later when I met the girl
She with her husband and I with my wife
Settling down for a bottle of Italian red
She muses, "I was pretty hot then
But you did not seem interested."
It wasn't the time to say, I followed
The poor advise that was in the air.
Mothers and fathers and economics
Though I even wondered if our children
Would have green eyes like yours
Or if you were cured of what I imagined
Since you lived among the tubercular.

Being stupid was not a frat house stunt.
The silliness of a nude swim
In a state forest Bear Mountain Lake
Thinking that the troopers would be amused
But wondering if one abandons the past
For a future of white bread, mayo and ham
Worthy of a Woody Allen perpetual joke.

Most people can later see the stupidity
As an acrobatic stunt done as a teen,
One comes back from ones suicide
To check the sincerity of loving folks
To see who came and uttered sad words.
Were they real tears or only tattoos on cheeks
Or the mascara of a flirt with death
Some come back to shake hands with the god of risk
And an amatory gesture without
Consideration of the consequences

There are tall straight cactuses at the side of the road
They are about as old as I
Their shape strikes me as stupid love
But who can argue with nature's adaptation
If I continue being stupid,
I would be motionless, stone blind with thorns.
Standing at the side of an abandon way
Unable to understand how love can flower.

Edward N. Halperin


You were in every poem I wrote,
in every thought I thought,

in every dream I dreamed.

I made you the center of my world
and lost my own song.

I gave and gave. You took and took
what you wanted.

But that's over with, finished,

One-sided love isn't stupid love.
It's just plain stupid.

Bobbie Townsend


No one knows the cost of love until it’s done.
Like when I agreed we’d buy that mule we didn’t need,
Because the farmer who owned it wasn’t treating it right,
And you felt sorry for it.
So you walked the two miles from our farm to his to get it
And lead it home.

You must have been gone an hour when you called,
Saying you were only a quarter of the way back and needed my help,
How the farmer warned you, as you led the mule through his gate,
That sometimes the beast just stopped
And wouldn’t budge another inch,
Until someone came behind it and blew a horn.

I see now that was the height of it,
How I came to your rescue in our pick up,
How I followed you down the winding, dirt road
Honking my horn every twenty feet or so, to get your ass to move.

I can still see the people staring as we went by
You in your work jeans, the old mule and me in the Ford;
The women who let you use their phone,
Were out washing their car,
How they stopped splashing each other to wave good-bye;
The Irish racist with the twelve kids at the top of the hill,
Who cursed us to go back where we came from;
The unwashed hermit with his beard of pubic hair,
Building a stone wall around his log cabin,
Laughing so hard he had to cover his pebbly teeth with his dirty ball cap;
The old woman who waved her shotgun
And warned us not to wake her daughter
Who we knew was dead these twenty years.

And then, when we got onto the paved road,
With the cars and trucks backing up behind us,
Swearing and calling you names that I secretly agreed with,
And I was embarrassed that I was embarrassed of you

And your mule and myself for being part of all this;
And finally taking it all out on old man
Johnson in the car behind, who used to be a friend,
Calling out through his car window,
Who passed more gas, you or the mule.
And who was laughing so hard,
I had to get out of the truck and punch him,
To protect your honor, or my own,
And still he didn’t stop laughing.

So when you say I never loved you,
Then what was that?
Even now that the mule’s been put down, and you’ve left, I still pay for it:
Sooner or later, one of Johnson’s sons will get to drinking at the Olde Brooke Inn,
And laugh up the story of you and the mule and me honking the horn,
And the trouble starts all over.
I will never love so much again.

Ron Yazinski


The autumn he turned 21,
When the ardor of their love
Was at its peak,
They walked the trails
Along the Susquehanna
And made love on the flannel lining
Of his army parka.
Sometimes he lit a fire
To keep her warm
And watched the shadows of the flames
Form patterns on her body.
Oblivious to time and place,
They reveled in their brave new world
Of pure sensation.

They were the unlikeliest of couples,
Pre-med courting early child ed,
An Irish altar boy from Troy
And a bat mitzvah from New Rochelle,
He freckle-faced and snub-nosed
With a soldier’s close-cropped head,
His mind and body tuned
Like a fine Italian car,
She delicate and lissome,
To a gentle manner born,
With her mother’s flowing chestnut hair
And her father’s caring eyes.

She told him she couldn’t marry
Out of the faith,
He said he wouldn’t convert,
So they left it as a draw
Until a few days later
When she called him at his dorm
To tell him it was over.
He said he understood,
Then ripped the phone right off the wall
And dropped it through an open window.

They carried him to Sully’s
Where the sympathetic barman,
A tattooed serpent curled around his arm,
Doled out double shots of Irish whiskey.
By evening’s end, the empty glasses
Were lined up in regiments
The whole length of the bar.
Two townies who had tried to interfere
Lay coldcocked on the floor.
He left his friends and headed for the river.

From one pocket of his leather jacket
He retrieved a diamond ring
And with a pitcher’s windup
Threw it far across the dark still water.
From the other he produced a felt-tip marker
And walking to the Jesus Saves sign
By the Pentecostal Church,
He penned in large black letters

Art Heifetz


My sweetheart is angry with me.

I was relentless,
Her debating skills weaker than mine,
Driven by a kind of egocentric obsessiveness.
I surrounded her with a great wall of logic,
Stone by stone,
Until at last she could take no more.

"Enough," she said,
Unwilling to surrender.
"Enough," she said,
Closing the door of her heart against me,
Withdrawing that sweet vulnerability
Which she had so delicately, tentatively, entrusted,
For which I shall soon recant all my assertions,
Agreeing that planet Earth is indeed flat,
If need be.

A small price to pay for love.

Russ Allison Loar


Each morning he hurried to her side
From the neighboring engineering school
And hand in hand escorted her
To her next required course.
Then he hurried off to his class.
She was all apology and sincere denial
About her missing essays.
But sir, I left them in your mailbox
This morning. Surely you received them.
She spoke with such flattering politeness,
Such obvious fabrication,
She was irresistible.
I wished those essays would appear,
Woven miraculously overnight.
She stared out the classroom window
Searching for his crest of curly black hair
To appear and for him to rescue her
From the silent preferences of Bartleby,
The intolerable gloom of Goodman Brown.
Furtive glimpses on the invalid ramp,
Urgent whispers, glances
Skittering wildly around the corridors--
Forbidden love.
Soon the Dean’s dead letter arrived.
Was she attending? Was she passing?
I led them to his threshold.
They entered so eagerly and shyly
They must have thought themselves
Standing before the Justice of the Peace.
He called in the parents.
The Dean, once a minister,
Believed we could reason together.
Words heal. But what could he possibly say?
This is America? This is how we live?
Exactly so, they must have thought. Exactly so.
She did as her parents proposed.
He returned to the subcontinent
Where a suitable match was arranged.
They were so sweet those brief weeks,
Wandering the institutional corridors
As Eve and Adam must have wandered
The untouched corridors of Eden,
Our first university, before the forbidden,
Before the towering gates slammed shut,
And, cursed to live,
They made their solitary way.

Barry Seiler