Poems for the Beating Heart

Poems for the beating hearts as well as those that bleed: this is a short collection of some of my favorite poets and their works about love and the way it can make us feel sometimes. We are all trying to understand things we don't really have a rubric for. These poets use their craft to convey their emotions. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. 

  1. 1. 'How to Love' By January Gill O’Neil

    After stepping into the world again, there is that question of how to love, how to bundle yourself against the frosted morning— the crunch of icy grass underfoot, the scrape of cold wipers along the windshield— and convert time into distance.

    What song to sing down an empty road as you begin your morning commute? And is there enough in you to see, really see, the three wild turkeys crossing the street with their featherless heads and stilt-like legs in search of a morning meal? Nothing to do but hunker down, wait for them to safely cross.

    As they amble away, you wonder if they want to be startled back into this world. Maybe you do, too, waiting for all this to give way to love itself, to look into the eyes of another and feel something— the pleasure of a new lover in the unbroken night, your wings folded around him, on the other side of this ragged January, as if a long sleep has ended.

  2. 2. 'Don't Go Far Off' By Pablo Neruda 

    Don't go far off, not even for a day, because — because — I don't know how to say it: a day is long and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep. Don't leave me, even for an hour, because then the little drops of anguish will all run together, the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift into me, choking my lost heart. Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach; may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance. Don't leave me for a second, my dearest, because in that moment you'll have gone so far I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking, Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?

  3. 3. 'Having A Coke With You' By Frank O'Hara 

    is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

    and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them                                                                                                               I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together for the first time and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully as the horse

      it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I’m telling you about it

  4. 4. 'I May After Leaving You Walk Quickly or Even Run' By Matthea Harvey

    Rain fell in a post-romantic way. Heads in the planets, toes tucked

    under carpets, that’s how we got our bodies through. The translator made the sign

    for twenty horses backing away from a lump of sugar. Yes, you.

    When I said did you want me I meant me in the general sense.

    The drink we drank was cordial. In a spoon, the ceiling fan whirled.

    The Old World smoked in the fireplace. Glum was the woman in the ostrich feather hat.

  5. 5. 'When You Leave' By Twyla M. Hansen 

    When you leave it will be empty: dried leaves on gray-haired limbs, clumps of gooseberry minus the berries.

    Tracks across frozen water will lead to a frigid channel, springs seeping away from the source, snow-covered hills reminding us of the rolling, frozen sea.

    The sun, low and yellow, will not thaw any ice-covered bridges, all slipping and falling, no turtle miraculous emerging from the snowbank to save me.

    When you leave it will be all deer track and rabbit scat, decayed leaf and prickly ash, evidence of frantic digging. Brush continuing a slow choke over the disconnected sandbar, little bluestem fighting back.

    When you are gone it will be indelible as a leaf fossil in ice, brief, no answer in the night to the call of your name, morning minus the light, forever non-communion

  6. 6. 'Blue Vase' By Cynthia Zarin 

    Because you like to sleep with curtains drawn,         at dawn I rose and pulled the velvet tight.

    You stirred, then set your hand back on my hip,        the bed a ship in sleep’s doubled plunging 

    wave on wave, until as though a lighthouse       beam had crossed the room: the vase between

    the windows suddenly ablaze, a spirit,         seized, inside its amethyst blue gaze.  

    What’s that? you said. A slip of light, untamed,        had turned the vase into a crystal ball,

    whose blue eye looked back at us, amazed, two        sleepers startled in each other’s arms,       while day lapped at night’s extinguished edge,             adrift between the past and future tense,             a blue moon for an instant caught in its chipped                  sapphire — love enduring, give or take.

  7. 7. 'First Love' By Jenifer Franklin 

    The boy beside me is not you but he is familiar in all

    the important ways. I pass through life finding you over

    and over again— oppress you with love. And every

    surrogate? Afflicted by my kindness, they leave

    me with my music. I loved you before I ever loved you.

  8. 8. 'One Art' By Elizabeth Bishop 

    The art of losing isn't hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

    Lose something every day. Accept the fluster of lost door keys, the hour badly spent. The art of losing isn't hard to master.

    Then practice losing farther, losing faster: places, and names, and where it was you meant to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

    I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or next-to-last, of three loved houses went. The art of losing isn't hard to master.

    I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

    —Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident the art of losing's not too hard to master though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

  9. 9. 'A Walk Round The Park' By Sandra Lim

    We did not say much to each other but we grinned,           

      because this love was so good you sucked the rib bones


    and I licked my fingers like a cat. Now I’m             omniscient. I’m going to skip past the hard


    parts that go on for a very long time. Here’s the future:             I laugh, because the pleasure was earned yet vouchsafed,

    and I made room for what was dead past and what yet didn’t

                exist. I was not always kind, but I was clear.

  10. 10. 'Good Night' By WIlhelm Müller 

    I came as a stranger; as a stranger now I leave. The flowers of May once welcomed me warmly; a young girl spoke of love, her mother even of marriage. Now all is bleak — the pathway covered with snow. The time of departure is not mine to choose; I must find my way alone in this darkness. With the shadow of the moon at my side, I search for traces of wildlife in the white snow. Why should I linger and give them reason to send me away? Let stray hounds howl outside their master's house. Love likes to wander from one to another, as if God willed it so. My darling, farewell.

    A quiet step, a careful shutting of the door so your sleep is not disturbed, and two words written on the gate as I leave, "Good night," to let you know I thought of you

Out of all of these works, I hope there was one that resonated with you and your current beating pattern. Every heart can handle so much and each one of us has gone on our individual paths. If you have been finding yourself struggling, poetry is a great outlet for expression. 

Images 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11