Maybe it's my
recent break up, or the ongoing collapse of Western democracy, but I'm just not that into Valentine's Day this year. I mean, look, if you're excited about drug store chocolates and artificial bears and exchanging lies with the person you love, that's nice. That's beautiful. I won't take that away from you. Enjoy that heart-shaped balloon that briefly allows you to forget about your own mortality. I'll just be the bitter woman in the corner, reading my portable Dorothy Parker, because there's nothing like a good old fashioned anti-love poem to get you through Valentine's Day alive.
To be clear, an "anti-love poem" is not necessarily
against love as a concept. Love is OK, if a bit over-exposed. Rather, these poems are the antidote to all the sappy love poetry out there. Because, sure, sappy poems and songs and declarations of love on Instagram are all well and good when you're in a sappy mood... but when you're feeling the Valentine's Day blues, all that cutesy fluff can make you want to strangle a stuffed bear.
So here are a few poems for the recently heartbroken, the Valentine haters, and anyone else who is fed up with roses and hearts and babies with wings (someone take those arrows away from that baby, babies shouldn't play with arrows).
'Two Cures for Love' by Wendy Cope
1. Don’t see him. Don’t phone or write a letter. 2. The easy way: get to know him better.
'You Fit Into Me' by Margaret Atwood
You fit into me like a hook into an eye a fish hook an open eye
'Symptom Recital' by Dorothy Parker
I do not like my state of mind; I'm bitter, querulous, unkind. I hate my legs, I hate my hands, I do not yearn for lovelier lands. I dread the dawn's recurrent light; I hate to go to bed at night. I snoot at simple, earnest folk. I cannot take the gentlest joke. I find no peace in paint or type. My world is but a lot of tripe. I'm disillusioned, empty-breasted. For what I think, I'd be arrested. I am not sick, I am not well. My quondam dreams are shot to hell. My soul is crushed, my spirit sore; I do not like me any more. I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse. I ponder on the narrow house. I shudder at the thought of men.... I'm due to fall in love again.
'No, I wasn’t meant to love and be loved' by Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib
No, I wasn’t meant to love and be loved. / If I’d lived longer, I would have waited longer. Knowing you are faithless keeps me alive and hungry. / Knowing you faithful would kill me with joy. Delicate are you, and your vows are delicate, too, / so easily do they break. You are a laconic marksman. You leave me / not dead but perpetually dying. I want my friends to heal me, succor me. / Instead, I get analysis. Conflagrations that would make stones drip blood / are campfires compared to my anguish. Two-headed, inescapable anguish!— / Love’s anguish or the anguish of time. Another dark, severing, incommunicable night. / Death would be fine, if I only died once. I would have liked a solitary death, / not this lavish funeral, this grave anyone can visit. You are mystical, Ghalib, and, also, you speak beautifully. / Are you a saint, or just drunk as usual?
'A Song: Strephon, your breach of faith and trust' by Laetitia Pilkington
Strephon, your breach of faith and trust Affords me no surprise; A man who grateful was, or just, Might make my wonder rise.
'I Feel Horrible. She Doesn’t' by Richard Brautigan
I feel horrible. She doesn’t love me and I wander around the house like a sewing machine that’s just finished sewing a turd to a garbage can lid.
'Time does not bring relief; you all have lied' by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Time does not bring relief; you all have lied Who told me time would ease me of my pain! I miss him in the weeping of the rain; I want him at the shrinking of the tide; The old snows melt from every mountain-side, And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane; But last year’s bitter loving must remain Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide. There are a hundred places where I fear To go,—so with his memory they brim. And entering with relief some quiet place Where never fell his foot or shone his face I say, “There is no memory of him here!” And so stand stricken, so remembering him.
'Poem Not to be Read at Your Wedding' by Beth Ann Connely
You ask me for a poem about love in place of a wedding present, trying to save me money. For three nights I’ve lain under the glow-in-the-dark-stars I’ve stuck to the ceiling over my bed. I’ve listened to the songs of the galaxy. Well, Carmen, I would rather give you your third set of steak knives than tell you what I know.
'Movement Song' by Audre Lorde
Do not remember me as disaster nor as the keeper of secrets I am a fellow rider in the cattle cars watching you move slowly out of my bed saying we cannot waste time only ourselves.
'The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator' by Anne Sexton
She took you the way a woman takes a bargain dress off the rack and I broke the way a stone breaks. I give back your books and fishing tack. Today's paper says that you are wed. At night, alone, I marry the bed. The boys and girls are one tonight. They unbutton blouses. They unzip flies. They take off shoes. They turn off the light. The glimmering creatures are full of lies. They are eating each other. They are overfed. At night, alone, I marry the bed.