Fourth annual Valentine’s Day poem blitz

Every Valentine’s Day I brainstorm for places that romantically-inclined or romantically-averse folks might congregate as they prepare for the holiday or prepare to avoid it. In the past I’ve left love poems in a chocolate store, post office, senior citizen’s home, a food court, a lonely-looking motel, the floral department of a grocery store. Now in my fourth year of Valentine’s Day poem-elfing, I think I need a location scout.

Here’s where this year’s crop of love poems landed:


At Victoria’s Secret, nestled in between the pink thongs and the pink brassieres, I left Pablo Neruda’s “Sonnet XVII,” a poem which speaks of loving someone “in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”


poem is on white shelf with the pale pink underwear
poem is on white shelf with the pale pink underwear


Funny that we used to call ladies’ underwear “intimates.” Victoria’s Secret intimates, however sexy, are no match for Neruda’s brand. The intimacy he’s after can’t be manufactured or marketed or purchased. He writes of a passionate love

so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand

so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.



I left Carl Sandberg’s “At a Window” on a stranger’s window at a transportation center.

poem is on white car’s windshield



Presumably the stranger will return to the car after work, and I hope this universal wish for companionship and love is a balm and not an irritant:

…leave me a little love,

A voice to speak to me in the day end,

A hand to touch me in the dark room

Breaking the long loneliness.




A Greyhound bus station seemed like a fine place for the decidedly unsentimental “First Love” by one of my favorites, Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska.

poem is on white wall in foreground



First love, says Szymborska,

does what all the others still can’t manage:


not even seen in dreams,

it introduces me to death.



Valentine’s Day is a great day to celebrate the love of friends. I taped Robert Frost’s “A Time to Talk” to the sign outside a neighborhood bar, always a good place for friends to gather.


poem is on oval sign just under the small red oval on the right-hand side



In this age of distraction and shortened attention spans, what better way to show affection than setting aside your hoe, whatever your hoe may be (no naughty jokes, please) and taking time “for a friendly visit“?



For anyone sadder but wiser who might need retail therapy on Valentine’s Day, I left “I Have Come to the Conclusion” by Nelle Fertig in the Macy’s purse department:

Image 2
poem is on the mirror




(Excuse the typos in the poem I left–too late for corrections.)

Fertig’s version of love is more cynical than my own. But I guess I’ve been fortunate not to have “broken a few/ very fine mirrors.”

Image 5


Finally, I left an excerpt from Roy Croft’s “Love” near my husband’s office outside a restaurant he likes. But he was out of town, so he’ll only see the poem here.


poem is on lamp post



The restaurant is frequented by middle-aged couples and singles looking to be coupled, people old enough to appreciate what’s under the surface, who can understand the beauty of what Fertig expresses here.





If none of these poems suit your mood or situation, take a look past Valentine poem-elfing in 2014, 2013, and 2012.


And spread love! Everyone has it, everyone needs it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!




  1. Kelly

    Nice work, Poem Elf. No postings in a theater on opening day of Fifty Shades of Grey? Interesting that they are touting that movie as a date movie – WOW some date! I like the Nelle Fertig poem – it reminds me of Kim and Kanye’s love.

    1. poemelf

      I keep hearing reports about the total lack of chemistry between the two leads, so maybe it’s the perfect date movie… for a date from hell. Spare us all!

      Kim and Kanye’s love, yes! Talk about some cracked mirrors.

  2. MaryJo

    Lovely Valentine’s Day gift, poem Elf. To do these posts, I’m thinking you live your life with love. Like your choice of poems.

    Happy Valentine’s Day

  3. Trish

    I recall Jack Salamanca at a party we attended saying to you–I wish I could remember his exact words–something along the lines of the fact that you have this mysterious air about you, hints of hidden depths behind this calm exterior. I think your choice of poems odd and difficult and provocative and scary and true and loving and terrible and ugly and fantastic and funny and sad that you stick all over your town reflect your own banked fires and subtle complexity.
    I never known what you are going to choose next. Your posts inspire and provoke and make my brain work harder. Who could ask for more?

    My Valentine to you is to say that I wish Baltimore’s windows, lamp posts, trees, tables, walls, etc., had you and your roll of tape and, of course, your poems.

    1. poemelf

      Looking over this year’s batch of Valeninte’s poems…I see I could have used some more of the my Luve is like a red red rose variety. It’s a little dark this time around.

      As for Jack Salamanca’s comment! I don’t remember that at all…but I think he mistook RBF syndrome (google it) for “mysterious air.”

      My valentine to you is to thank you for being such a great reader of poems, not just the ones here, but the ones you have in your head, your heart.

  4. Trish


    No, Jack was/is too careful an observer to get it wrong. He had a drink nestled in his palm and was looking thoughtfully at you, like he’d love to wrestle you into one of his books. Garrulous, madcap me standing next to you was jealous. (Were you not-yet-showing pregnant at the time, maybe, this splendid secret adding a new dimension to your expression?)

    Thanks for the Valentine.

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