Friday, February 15, 2013

American Love Poems

Below is a poem by Ted Kooser that comes by way of my grandmother by way of her friend and just in time to sum up my long-distance longing. My grandmother's friend, Emily, wrote of Kooser, "Pulitzer Prize winner, US Poet Laureate, and Presidential Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kooser is known for finding wonder in seemingly ordinary things. For many years, he wrote a new poem each Valentine's Day.

'Pocket Poem' seems to me quintessentially American, stripped down, direct, as if the poet were explaining something simple in serious in words that only happen to be the language of love."

Pocket Poem

If this comes creased and creased again and soiled
as if I'd opened it a thousand times
to see if what I'd written here was right,
it's all because I looked too long for you
to put it in your pocket. Midnight says
the little gifts of loneliness come wrapped
by nervous fingers. What I wanted this
to say was that I want to be so close
that when you find it, it is warm from me.

Ted Kooser

It reminds me of the beloved found poem "this is just to say" by William Carlos Williams. Another one in stripped down "words that happens to be the language of love." It is also one that I consider personally to have great social currency, an attribute I judge by the frequency with which friends and family find ways to quote and parody the poem.

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos William