Poems last longer than chocolates

ImageTime for the Third Annual Valentine’s Day Poem Elfing.  (If you’re looking for more love poems, you can check out previous Valentine’s Day posts in 2013 and 2012.)  


Coincidentally, just as I was sitting down to work on this post, I got a Valentine in the mail.  I can’t think of the last time I got a Valentine in the mail.  Such a little thing to make me so happy! Maybe these poems will spread a little happiness too.


In a candy store full of Valentine’s Day treats, I left James Laughlin’s “You Came as a Thought” by a biscotti jar at the front register:



I send this out to my 87 year-old aunt, long widowed from the love of her life and now happily dating a man she’s known since childhood. Here in a nutshell is why love can be so beautiful:  you came as a song when I had/ finished singing 



Clearly I’m partial to the love between old people, because I left another poem for elderly lovers at the post office.  “Words from the Front” by Ron Padgett is on the window to the right of the door.



Judy Garland may sing about the ickiness of overhearing other people’s love babble in “Baby Talk” from the movie Easter Parade, but somehow Padgett makes us glad to listen to it.



There’s a path along a creek where I love to leave poems because a woman I’ve never seen leaves lovely art projects there from time to time. She uses old flowers, pine cones, twigs and rocks.  Her works were nowhere to be seen, buried in snow, out of season I guess, as is Robert Burns’ “A Red, Red Rose.”  The poem is attached to a little branch on a vine-covered tree:



The first line of the poem is so overly-familiar that I never noticed how beautiful the rest of it is.  I’d love to hear these words every day:   And I will love thee still, my dear/Till a’ the seas gang dry. And who wouldn’t rather hear “Fare thee well!” than “Later!”?




In the hair care aisle of CVS I left a delicate little Japanese poem by a poet named Hitomaro.  The poem is leaning against the pink shampoo bottle on the top shelf.



I’ve had this poem a long time (it was from a little cloth-bound book of haikus belonging to my father) and I’ve always thought it deeply romantic.  




Without intending to, I poem-elfed two poems by poet and novelist Vikram Seth.  I chose them for those people who have a hard time on Valentine’s Day.  The first one, “Protocols,” I left on the gym doors of a local high school.  The poem is on the glass to the right of the white doors.



High school seemed a fitting place for a poem about the aftermath of a fight.  But high schoolers don’t have a monopoly on drama between friends and lovers, so I send this out to all who desire reconciliation or resolution in their relationships.




The second poem by Vikram Seth, “All You Who Sleep Tonight,” I left at a roadside motel.  The poem is on the orange post in front of room 42.



The motel struck me as a lonely-hearts place:

IMG_0849  And here’s the poem:




Finally, a Valentine poem for my own sweetheart.  I put Grace Paley’s “Love”  in his backpack as I drove him to the airport.  He’s in China, leaving us both alone on Valentine’s Day, so I sent him with a poem to connect us.



I love that moment Paley describes of seeing the long-loved person anew.  That’s a moment I’ll experience myself when my husband of 26 years returns home after two weeks away.




Happy Valentine’s Day!  To one and all! Love is for every single human being, not just for couples.  Give it, take it, spread it, relish it.



  1. Sherry Crowson

    I love the poems you chose to elf . . .especially All you who Sleep Tonight and Words from the Front. As a Navy wife, I remember so many nights alone, thank heaven that’s all behind me now, and as an older married lady, I love being “cute” and knowing how many years we’ve been together just makes me happy! My kids are always complaining about our noisy kissin’ in the kitchen, and we seem to constantly joke and tease and generally have a good time even after all these years, or maybe especially after all these years! I hope some other lovers saw themselves in your poems and smiled!

  2. poemelf

    Hats off to you as a Navy wife and mother. My mother was too, at least for the first six kids. I can’t tell you how much I admire the strength and capability of women like you.

    And it sounds like you must have had a (deservedly) happy Valentine’s Day!

Leave a Reply