One of February’s troubadours, love poems glimmer like candy hearts against a blue sky. Coming in all hues, like love itself, they have the power to adore, seduce, honor, bind, anger, grieve, forgive, appreciate, engage, mend, reconcile and more. From classic to contemporary, verses of love and passion inspire us to give voice to the seemingly indescribable. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we have assembled a collection of poetry submitted from area writers that will warm the heart of Saint Valentine himself.


These Days 

we walk slower,

hand in hand.

I miss my good

knees, the miles

I ran on blacktop,

on country roads

through fields,

always running,

moving, covering

distance as if that

would take me


all I ever needed,

I see now, is you,

right here: this home,

our yard, my hand

in yours, on a

Sunday afternoon.

— Steve Cushman




The Savings & Moan

Maybe swinging a nine-pound hammer

in Hell, sweat hissing 

on pillow-shaped rocks

that break and bind,

mocking my stinging eyes,

I’ll lose track of Friday nights

when we were alone at the top 

of the savings & loan building.


Or stroke-addled, swabbing the floor

at the Mission shelter, I’ll drop the mop

to end a week, mutter past the wet floor sign,

false teeth clicking, and not want you —

tilting into our spell, then pulling back,

true to your computer.


But never in my right mind

will Fridays above the lights 

go blank, lovely Friend. 

— Michael Gaspeny





When Julie says she wants Tiramisu

I do what husbands have done forever, 

go searching. First the Italian Bakery 

on Westridge, but they’re out, then Alex’s

Cheesecake downtown, but no luck there.  

I even try a couple chain restaurants but 

you guessed it they’re out. Finally, I asked 

the pastry chef at Cugino Forno and he said,

“Man, it’s National Tiramisu Day.”


Okay, so let’s add that to the list of things 

I don’t know.  Finally, I hit Bestway’s 

frozen food aisle and somehow they 

have a Sarah Lee two-pack, which I buy.


Julie smiles, says, “Thank you this is just what I wanted. 

But what took you so long?” 

I shrug, “There’s a run on Tiramisu today,” and she

laughs as we settle in to watch a gardening

show on Netflix. I wave away her attempts

to share the Tiramisu, tell her to enjoy

the whole thing, secretly hoping she’ll

save a little, perhaps a bite or two, for me.

— Steve Cushman
(*March 21 is Tiramisu Day)




Dried Flowers
& Other Crafts

Leaf through pages of my flesh, find quilt-comfort memories.

Read how the day before yesterday becomes three decades.

Showers together, coffee, cozy socks and couches.

Enough, for a time.  Peel back three pages from my book

of skin at shoulder, where muscle meets

gauze-white membrane, a spot that holds one dried iris

pressed between two black & white photos.  One shows

us hiking near Lolo Pass Road, between mounds of boulders,

before we found our almost-smooth meadow.

I will not speak of the second photo.  Not yet.

— John Haugh


July 12, 2007, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

Full from ice cream and a sun-filled day my son

and I walk the half mile back to our rental house,

as the gulls circle overhead and the bikinied girls

pass us by on pink and yellow rental bikes. Of course,

I’d like to stretch this week at the beach out forever,

but I can’t.  Back home, there are rooms to be painted

and yards to be mowed, not to mention bills to be paid.

But for a few more minutes, Trevor and I are walking

barefoot on the hot sidewalk and when I turn to the left

I spot this dark-haired woman waving at us from a balcony

and as she waves I realize she’s my wife, and this is my

life, and I’m no doubt luckier than I have any right to be.

— Steve Cushman





I promise

there will always be

sweet fresh sheets for you:

I have labored

to iron away the creases

of many solitary nights,

pledge that we will lie

on a new bed

with carefully sorted memories,

even as we crumple

toward our inevitable berths.

— Valerie Nieman




Power Outage

For three days the power was out,

so each night after work we huddled

close on the couch, under that thick blue 

blanket, reading books by candlelight, 

drinking wine, our legs intertwined.  


Later, in bed, even if we didn’t make love 

we reached for each other, for warmth, which 

at times felt more intimate than lovemaking.  


When the lights flickered on the third day 

I closed my eyes and thought no, not yet,

as if my thoughts had the power to do 

anything, and she cussed, dammit. 


In the morning, we woke under so many 

layers, both of us covered in sweat as if a fever

had broken and what was ahead might be 

better days, the start of something new.

— Steve Cushman




Secret Admirer

Whoever set the bouquet at your door,

in a vase with pink bows double-knotted

around its glass throat,

doesn’t know you well. You hate pink.

Maybe whoever, approaching so intimately

with sex and death in hand,

breathed in the faint scent of (pink) carnations,

but probably just the funereal odor

that clings to every petal,

eucalyptus and vinegar.

Vinegar that you pour at the feet

of gardenias so the leaves will be green

and the flowers so sweet

before they jaundice and fall.

Cut flowers, bright in their dying,

daisies, asters, roses, carnations.

Casting messages around like pollen,


Hardly any fragrance to flowers anymore

except for chrysanthemums;

your cousin’s funeral put you off them forever,

the way your mother hated gardenias.

Why gardenias?

Another woman’s perfume,

perhaps, she herself favoring Chanel No. 5

when she could, thick with jasmine.

Gardenia is named jasminoides,

yet not even kin, like someone pilfering

a dead child’s name.

Such sniffery.

You wait for another delivery.

Whoever, maybe.

— Valerie Nieman




Sizing Up

The carpenter

in the Craignure Inn,

carrying still his flat pencil

in its narrow pocket,

looks my way now and again,

gauging this accidental bird

alighted at his local.

A small man precise as his work,

measure twice and cut once;

he has a curved nose

and not a spare bit of flesh,

the plane having worked him

close to the bone.

His vest is joined neatly,

his ginger hair clipped.

I unfold myself from the low chair

like a carpenter’s rule,

near six feet of well-fed American

woman, and go to settle up.

Behind me at the bar,

I don’t see him but I feel

him quietly slip away.

— Valerie Nieman





I had never heard of Yorkshire Puddings

until my wife made them.  Julie’s British,

says her family ate them every Sunday

growing up, along with a baked chicken,

some potatoes, roasted carrots or green

beans.  Sometimes she calls them

Popovers.  That’s the name our son

uses for these overgrown muffins

of oil and flour and egg, puffed in the

middle, so that a fork or knife can send

them toppling in on themselves.

What I’m trying to say here is I can’t

imagine my life without these treats 

from across the ocean and my son,

if you could see the way he ravages

them, you would know, feels the same.

— Steve Cushman

Recommended Posts