Monday, February 7, 2011


A few weeks ago I wrote about all the violence in the air. Wars, assassination,derangement, weaponry, bilious talk-radio rants polluting our next inhalation.

Yet coexistent with all the drek is its polar opposite, love. If the dark side is shouted from headlines it is love in all it's permutations that quietly provides the background music to get us through the day. From sexual passion to mundane civility we are creatures insistent upon expressions of human contact. Is there any moment more life-affirming than being received whether it's making eye-contact with another driver letting him into your lane or an ecstatic joining with a partner?

The very idea of setting aside a day to honor love is a measure of love, of higher consciousness. Valentine's day is coming. I don't want to hear how it's an invention of Hallmark cards or florists or candy makers. For Peggy and me it is the most cherished and celebrated holiday.

We mark dead presidents, war memorials and myths we call religious which are really seasonal rituals. Valentine's Day may not be a union holiday but it is truly more a holiday of union than any other. Why write about it now, a week before the designated day? Because it needs an extended life, a few weeks, a month, any and all days.

The word love itself is not in everyone's vocabulary. Boys have trouble saying it particularly if it isn't heard under their roof. For others the word is thrown around in excess and has become exhausted and limp. We need a way of saying our love that doesn't feel mushy or excruciating.

In fact we need as many gradations for love as Eskimos have for snow. And while we're at it an entire language for civil discourse. The fact that we do not have it must certainly be a function of its relative absence in our social intercourse.

Expressions of love in poetry or fiction are far more difficult than writing out one's shadowy side. Noir is the fall back position sure to get you in the gut. I regard gratuitous language and violence the way I do movie-cancer or vomit scenes; cheap shots aimed to elicit easy sentiment or a short-cut to authenticity.

Love poetry is not to be confused with the doggerel on greeting cards anymore than literature is to romance novels. Peggy and I exchange poems with references to private moments in language understood only by us. What is summoned is a reaching into ourselves and shaping new forms from that inexhaustible source within. Expressing love in words is indistinguishable from any creative act, earned and on-going.

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