© Chuck Grant

Lula Loves

Lula Loves Love

The 10 poems to read this Valentine’s Day

The following poems embody the feeling of love, whether that’s for a partner, parent or friend. They are worth a read this Valentine’s Day if you are in love, out of love, or recovering from it. In the famous History Boys scene, Alan Bennett wrote that: ‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.’ Poems mean different things to us at different points in our lives. It’s possible for many of us to trace our lives and experiences through the books we’ve read. We hope that among this fine list, there is one poem that speaks to you over the sometimes challenging holiday. Here is Lula’s gentle reminder to wish a happy day to all your loved ones.



‘Love Is’, Nikki Giovanni, 1943 – present


Some people forget that love is

tucking you in and kissing you

‘Good night’

no matter how young or old you are

Some people don’t remember that

love is

listening and laughing and asking


no matter what your age

Few recognize that love is

commitment, responsibility

no fun at all



Love is

You and me


‘Having a Coke with You’, Frank O’Hara, 1926-1966


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 


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 


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 


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 


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 


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 


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

‘It is Marvellous to Wake up Together’, Elizabeth Bishop, 1911 – 1979


It is marvellous to wake up together

At the same minute; marvellous to hear

The rain begin suddenly all over the roof,

To feel the air clear

As if electricity had passed through it

From a black mesh of wires in the sky.

All over the roof the rain hisses,

And below, the light falling of kisses.


An electrical storm is coming or moving away;

It is the prickling air that wakes us up.

If lightning struck the house now, it would run

From the four blue china balls on top

Down the roof and down the rods all around us,

And we imagine dreamily

How the whole house caught in a bird-cage of lightning

Would be quite delightful rather than frightening;


And from the same simplified point of view

Of night and lying flat on one’s back

All things might change equally easily,

Since always to warn us there must be these black

Electrical wires dangling. Without surprise

The world might change to something quite different,

As the air changes or the lightning comes without our blinking,

Change as our kisses are changing without our thinking.


Walt Whitman, ‘Sometimes with One I Love’, 1819 –1892


Sometimes with one I love I fill myself with rage for fear I effuse unreturn’d love,

But now I think there is no unreturn’d love, the pay is certain one

way or another,

(I loved a certain person ardently and my love was not return’d,

Yet out of that I have written these songs.)


That I did always love, Emily Dickinson, 1930 – 1886


That I did always love,  

I bring thee proof:  

That till I loved  

I did not love enough.  


That I shall love alway,        

I offer thee  

That love is life,  

And life hath immortality.  


This, dost thou doubt, sweet?  

Then have I          

Nothing to show  

But Calvary.

Untitled, Anon, before 1530


Western wind, when wilt thou blow,

The small rain down can rain.

Christ, if my love were in my arms,

And I in my bed again.


John Fuller, ‘Valentine’,1937 – present


The things about you I appreciate

May seem indelicate:

I’d like to find you in the shower

And chase the soap for half an hour.

I’d like to have you in my power

And see your eyes dilate.

I’d like to have your back to scour

And other parts to lubricate.

Sometimes I feel it is my fate

To chase you screaming up a tower

Or make you cower

By asking you to differentiate

Nietzsche from Schopenhauer.

I’d like successfully to guess your weight

And win you at a fête.

I’d like to offer you a flower.

I like the hair upon your shoulders,

Falling like water over boulders.

I like the shoulders too: they are essential.

Your collar-bones have great potential

(I’d like your particulars in folders

Marked Confidential).

I like your cheeks, I like your nose,

I like the way your lips disclose

The neat arrangement of your teeth

(Half above and half beneath)

In rows.

I like your eyes, I like their fringes.

The way they focus on me gives me twinges.

Your upper arms drive me berserk.

I like the way your elbows work.

On hinges …

I like your wrists, I like your glands,

I like the fingers on your hands.

I’d like to teach them how to count,

And certain things we might exchange,

Something familiar for something strange.

I’d like to give you just the right amount

And get some change.


I like it when you tilt your cheek up.

I like the way you not and hold a teacup.

I like your legs when you unwind them.

Even in trousers I don’t mind them.

I like each softly-moulded kneecap.


I like the little crease behind them.

I’d always know, without a recap,

Where to find them.


I like the sculpture of your ears.

I like the way your profile disappears

Whenever you decide to turn and face me.

I’d like to cross two hemispheres

And have you chase me.

I’d like to smuggle you across frontiers

Or sail with you at night into Tangiers.

I’d like you to embrace me.


I’d like to see you ironing your skirt

And cancelling other dates.

I’d like to button up your shirt.

I like the way your chest inflates.

I’d like to soothe you when you’re hurt

Or frightened senseless by invertebrates.


I’d like you even if you were malign

And had a yen for sudden homicide.

I’d let you put insecticide

Into my wine.

I’d even like you if you were Bride

Of Frankenstein

Or something ghoulish out of Mamoulian’s

Jekyll and Hyde.

I’d even like you as my Julian

Or Norwich or Cathleen ni Houlihan.

How melodramatic

If you were something muttering in attics

Like Mrs Rochester or a student of Boolean



You are the end of self-abuse.

You are the eternal feminine.

I’d like to find a good excuse

To call on you and find you in.

I’d like to put my hand beneath your chin,

And see you grin.

I’d like to taste your Charlotte Russe,

I’d like to feel my lips upon your skin

I’d like to make you reproduce.


I’d like you in my confidence.

I’d like to be your second look.

I’d like to let you try the French Defence

And mate you with my rook.

I’d like to be your preference

And hence

I’d like to be around when you unhook.

I’d like to be your only audience,

The final name in your appointment book,

Your future tense.


‘Love and Friendship’, Emily Brontë, 1818 – 1848


Love is like the wild rose-briar,

Friendship like the holly-tree—

The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms

But which will bloom most constantly?


The wild rose-briar is sweet in spring,

Its summer blossoms scent the air;

Yet wait till winter comes again

And who will call the wild-briar fair?


Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now

And deck thee with the holly’s sheen,

That when December blights thy brow

He still may leave thy garland green.



‘Poem for Haruko’, June Jordan, 1936-2002

I never thought I’d keep a record of my pain

or happiness

like candles lighting the entire soft lace

of the air

around the full length of your hair/a shower

organized by God

in brown and auburn

undulations luminous like particles

of flame


But now I do

retrieve an afternoon of apricots

and water interspersed with cigarettes

and sand and rocks

we walked across:

                     How easily you held

my hand

beside the low tide

of the world


Now I do

relive an evening of retreat

a bridge I left behind

where all the solid heat

of lust and tender trembling

lay as cruel and as kind

as passion spins its infinite

tergiversations in between the bitter

and the sweet


Alone and longing for you

now I do

‘Love Poem with Apologies for my Appearance’ Ada Limon, 1976 – present 


Sometimes, I think you get the worst

 of me. The much-loved loose forest-green 

sweatpants, the long bra-less days, hair 

knotted and uncivilized, a shadowed brow 

where the devilish thoughts do their hoofed 

dance on the brain. I’d like to say this means 

I love you, the stained white cotton T-shirt, 

the tears, pistachio shells, the mess of orange 

peels on my desk, but it’s different than that. 

I move in this house with you, the way I move

 in my mind, unencumbered by beauty’s cage.

 I do like I do in the tall grass, more animal-me

 than much else. I’m wrong, it is that I love you, 

but it’s more that when you say it back, lights 

out, a cold wind through curtains, for maybe 

the first time in my life, I believe it.