A poem for Valentine’s

February 13th, 2010

For centuries, poets have been instructing their poems to go off and carry words and feelings out into the world, hoping they will find kindly readers.  “Go little poem,” (or “book,” or “song,”) is a common phrase that goes back to the literature of ancient Rome. In the Middle Ages, such an ‘envoy’ often apologized for the poem’s inadequacies and asked for the reader’s forgiveness.

I like messing around with traditional forms like the sonnet. For my Valentine envoy, I imagined my poem as one of those small Voyager spacecraft, travelling out beyond the boundaries of the solar system. An alien intelligence, finding one of them, would surely realize right away that it was an artefact made with purpose.

And, of course, the poem is for my dear Valentine, David.

Valentine Envoi

 Go, little poem, into the space between

planets, across the unbounded page

inscribed by stars. A tiny, ticking machine

of levers and polished surfaces –

clear evidence of intent, design.


Let the aliens who intercept it

learn the virtues of this love of mine,

his kindly constellation. Let them share

my wonder at the dense relationship

of soul and smile, within the dear,

dear boundaries of skin. Go little ship

of space beyond the gravity of time,

and — beating always — prove

that there is, indeed, a god

of love.



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