Epithalamium

I tell you, I felt like an elephant
that night, the night of the harvest.
Each furrow put on airs in the moonlight,
and the stars were so much confetti
that took more than one lifetime to fall …

I blundered about, wondered where to sit;
I asked after you. My trunk was so heavy—
and can you believe the effort it took
to lift that enormous head? I cut a figure
in my tux—Madras, scarlet cummerbund—

but my ears, big as pup tents, or two ’40’s
hats, heard everything & gave me away …
I stood in the garden, munching the trees—
I had a case of nerves! When you emerged,
gowned in confetti, I felt like the roar

of the crowd in your ears like small bells—
I was everywhere with good intentions!
When I sat on the bench, how could I know
you’d flip up over me, into the shrubs?
And if I spoke of the mud bath—so cooling,

& a protection against flies—I was only
practicing the lost art of conversation.
I’d forgotten my index cards with the topics,
after all my years wandering the high grasses …
As I watched you limp back to the dance,

I vowed I’d become a gazebo for you, a bower!
Oh, anything to hold you in my arms …
My bleating stopped the music, signaled
everyone into the garden—so embarrassing!
But as they all honked into our presence,

I tell you, I felt like an elephant, seeing
the faces above the collars: lizard, goat, rhino.
Like a high school reunion you pass up,
or waking from a dream, admitting everything …
And you saw it, too—smiling, rubbing my trunk.

— James Cummins, author of Then & Now

The Reading

Run your hand over the poem,
and you already know it.

Feel the round of the R to begin;
curl under the opening line and cup
the first y so you can feel its tail
tickling. Run your hand across its side
and gather up the poem,
the cup, the tail and begin down.

You will do this again, but for now
you already know what’s coming
before you know it—
the way I knew I would find you.

I knew the way a hand knows,
before a syllable is spoken.

—L.L. Barkat, author of the fiction-poetry title The Novelist

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The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield.

There will we sit upon the rocks,
And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

There I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroider’d all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair linèd slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

Thy silver dishes for thy meat
As precious as the gods do eat,
Shall on an ivory table be
Prepared each day for thee and me.

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

—Christopher Marlowe

For more Christopher Marlowe love poems, see Complete Poems

Check out this discussion of The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, with author and Classics professor Karen Swallow Prior, at Tweetspeak Poetry.

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New Moon

Moonrise is not forever,
so in this brief hour
while we are tidal,
ebbing and flowing,
show me your light.

—Lorna Cahall

This love poem appeared in Every Day Poems. Subscribe now, for a year of happy mornings.

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Ontology

She can be a nest.
She’s got the necessary equipment.
Two breasts
you could rest your head between.
She can be a string of pearls,
rounded between your fingers,
as you count the time
between ivory knots.
She is, yes, the artichoke
with the impossible heart
a man might seek for tenderness.
She is the cherry,
containing a center stone
you work around with an agile tongue.
Sometimes she would like to be
just a white dress. Not the satin kind,
but the plain cotton,
with the simple buttons
you’d undo down the back,
wondering how a body hides within
such easy transparency.

—L.L. Barkat, author of the fiction/poetry title The Novelist

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Einstein’s Happiest Moment

Einstein’s happiest moment
occurred when he realized
a falling man falling
beside a falling apple
could also be described
as an apple and a man at rest
while the world falls around them.

And my happiest moment
occurred when I realized
you were falling for me,
right down to the core, and the rest,
relatively speaking, has flown past
faster than the speed of light.

— Richard Berlin

For more Richard Berlin poems, see Secret Wounds

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A Birthday

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a daïs of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

—Christina Rossetti

For more love poems, see The Complete Poems, Christina Rossetti

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Sonnets from the Portuguese 43: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

—Elizabeth Barrett Browning

For more love poems, see Sonnets from the Portuguese and Other Poems

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How do I love thee Emily Dickinson art by Emily Wierenga

art by Emily Wierenga

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Shakespeare: Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

—William Shakespeare, 1609

The lover in The Novelist recites this sonnet to overcome the main character, Laura. It works. Read more about The Novelist at Tweetspeak Poetry.

For more Shakespeare love poems, see Love Poems & Sonnets of William Shakespeare

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Love—like there has never been Shakespeare in Love photo by Tina Howard

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