When I first started my MFA program with earnest zeal and enthusiasm, my first poems for workshop were about breakups. I wasn’t even heartbroken at the time or anything — I just really liked writing break-up poems. I liked the sorrowful, indulgent metaphors, line breaks that were super-dramatic and on point. Hyperbolic narratives that evoked infinite, pure emotion (or at least, that was the goal).
Retrospectively, I think breakups and relationships were the easiest hardships to write about. When your heart hurts, that’s when you’re at your most creative (one can argue). It was hard to write about love in a positive way, because every time I tried, it came out cloying and sweet like processed syrup.
I read a lot of break up poems for inspiration. I wanted my poems to really get you good. The poems I read encompassed the feeling of dejection and heart-wrenching sadness so well, I wasn’t even sure if I could write poems so beautifully crafted. These poems really used figurative language and form as their vehicle; I really felt like I was inside of these speakers. I felt lonely, and crushed, and I vicariously held on to love even though it wasn’t even mine to begin with.
Really, though, I felt inspired. Whether you’re going through a breakup right now, have experienced one some time in your life, or just love a stellar love poem, here are 11 that will surely pull some heartstrings:
"On Watching Someone You Love Love Someone Else" by Sierra DeMulder
"At home, you will picture her across town, pressing her fingers into his back like wet cement. You will wonder if she looks like you, if you are two bedrooms in the same house. Did he fall for her features like rearranged furniture? When he kisses her, does she taste like new paint?"
"This is the Nonsense of Love" by Mindy Nettifee
"the truth is this:
my love for you is the only empirei will ever build.
when it falls,as all empires do,my career in empire building will be over.
i will retreat to an island.i will dabble in the vacation-hut industryi will skulk about the private libraries and public parks.
i will fold the clean clothes.i will wash the dishes.i will never again dream of having the whole world."
"The Honest House" by Megan Falley
"In an effort not to crawl back to you,
I crossed the 2 train off my subway mapin blue ink, called it a river, sold our canoe.
Swept the soot from the chimney into a vase,scattered it over our favorite spots in Manhattan.Husband, I pretended they were your ashes."
"Hesitate to Call" by Louis Gluck
"Lived to see you throwingMe aside. That foughtLike netted fish inside me. Saw you throbbingIn my syrups. Saw you sleep. And lived to seeThat all that all flushed downThe refuse. Done?It lives in me.You live in me. Malignant.Love, you ever want me, don't."
5. "Cleave" by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
"A relationship is not a thing; it is not
and achievement, we hear someone sayon TV two months after we finally said it to each other: Separation. But
we can still be friends, right? And sountil the lease is up, I crawl next to youinto our old bed. Our feet are now strangers.My body is my own again. Nobody sees it."
6. "Love Found You in a Line" by Lizzie Harris
"Love was a carry-on you wanted close but Love moved his body to the couch moved his clothes to the chair moved time to reveal a picture of skin Love isn't asked to disassemble anything Love made home too homely Love made impossible to make Love became invisible Love didn't answer"
7. "A Pity. We Were Such a Good Invention" by Yehuda Amichai
Your thighs off my hips.As far as I'm concerned They are all surgeons. All of them.They dismantled usEach from the other.As far as I'm concernedThey are all engineers. All of them.A pity. We were such a goodAnd loving invention.An aeroplane made from a man and wife.Wings and everything.We hovered a little above the earth.We even flew a little."
"The Primer" by Christina David
She said, I love you.
He said, Nothing.
(As if there were just oneof each word and the onewho used it, used it up).In the history of languagethe first obscenity was silence."
"For My Lover, Returning to His Wife" by Anne Sexton
"the curious call
when you will burrow in arms and breastsand tug at the orange ribbon in her hairand answer the call, the curious call.
She is so naked and singular.She is the sum of yourself and your dream.Climb her like a monument, step after step.She is solid.
As for me, I am a watercolor.I wash off."
"A Book of Music" by Jack Spicer
"Coming at an end, the loversAre exhausted like two swimmers. Where Did it end? There is no telling. No love isLike an ocean with the dizzy procession of the waves' boundariesFrom which two can emerge exhausted, nor long goodbyeLike death.Coming at an end. Rather, I would say, like a lengthOf coiled ropeWhich does not disguise in the finale twists of its lengthsIts endings.But, you will say, we lovedAnd some parts of us lovedAnd the rest of us will remainTwo persons. Yes,Poetry ends like a rope."
"Mixed Metaphor" by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
"Remember how I wrote you were not a getaway car?
Thank you letting meride you hard anyway."
Images: Sushiesque/Flickr; Giphy(11)