21 Poems About Heartbreak To Read After A Breakup, If You Want A Good Cry
No matter if you've been dating for years or a few weeks, breaking up can make you feel like the world is crashing down around you. But I'm here to tell you that there's one thing that just might get you through a breakup: poems.
As long as there have been love poems, there have been breakup poems. After all, love is freaking hard, and when you do everything right, it can still fall apart. But one of the incredible things about poetry is that it can take those feelings that seem inexpressible and lay them out on the page. When you read a poem that really gets to the core of what you're feeling, you'll get a little bit of much-needed release.
Of course, breakups are defined by cliches: "It's not you, it's me." "Let's just be friends." "There will be other fish in the sea." And while it's true that cliches can be comforting, I wanted to find you some poems that you haven't read a million times before. Who knows, maybe the silver lining of this breakup will be that you discover a new favorite poet.
So, if you're going through a breakup, here are some poems that are perfect for you right now. They capture all the pain of heartbreak, and give you something beautiful to soak in as you process everything that just happened:
1"Our Many Never Endings" by Courtney Queeney
"Inside my chest, a mangle.
Inside yours, a deflating balloon.
You took the vacuum cleaner, the ironing board, the dish rack
and left me some lint, an iron to scorch shirts, one chipped plate."
2"Things That Happened During Petsitting That I Remind Myself Are Not Metaphors for My Heart" by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz
"On the couch, the cat crawls on top of me
and loves me so hard, his claws draw blood.
I am so lonely, I do nothing to stop it."
3"Love Elegy in the Chinese Garden, with Koi" by Nathan McClain
"Because who hasn’t done that—
loved so intently even after everything
has gone? Loved something that has washed
its hands of you?"
4"You thought" by Dorothea Lasky
"You thought I’d flipped the switch and I hadn’t
You thought I’d left the window open
And I wouldn’t
You thought I’d turn the dial up
But I didn’t"
5"This Was Once a Love Poem" by Jane Hirshfield
"This was once a love poem,
before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short,
before it found itself sitting,
perplexed and a little embarrassed,
on the fender of a parked car,
while many people passed by without turning their heads."
6"Movement Song" by Audre Lorde
"your goodbye is a promise of lightning
in the last angels hand
unwelcome and warning
the sands have run out against us
we were rewarded by journeys
away from each other
into mornings alone"
7"dear love," by Barbara Jane Reyes
"there are times when missing you hurts. so
it comes to this, vying for geography. there is a prayer stuck in my
throat. douse me in gasoline, my love, and strike a match. let’s see
this prayer ignite to high heaven."
8"Local News: Woman Dies in Chimney" by Kristen Tracy
speaks directly into the microphone, asks how a person
could disregard so much: the damper, the flue,
the smoke shelf. He can’t imagine what it was she faced."
9"Love, I'm Done With You" by Rose Gay
"Love, it used to be
you could retire your toothbrush for like two or three days and still
I’d push my downy face into your neck. Used to be
I hung on your every word. (Sing! you’d say: and I was a bird.
Freedom! you’d say: and I never really knew what that meant,
but liked the way it rang like a rusty bell.) Used to be."
10"A Pity, We Were Such a Good Invention" by Yehuda Amichai, translated by Assia Gutmann
Your thighs off my hips.
As far as I'm concerned
They are all surgeons. All of them."
11"The Coin of Your Country" by Monica Ferrell
"When I take my scissors to your shirts,
I am frightened: not that they will whimper
But that they won’t understand the violence I mean.
That kind of violence is the other side of love,"
12"You Are the Penultimate Love of My Life" by Rebecca Hazelton
"The garden you plant and I plant
is tunneled through by voles,
the vowels we speak aren’t vows,"
13"Red Ghazal" by Aimee Nezhukumathil
"I throw away my half-finished letters to him in my tiny pink wastebasket, but
my aim is no good. The floor is scattered with fire hazards, declarations unread."
14"Waiting for This Story to End Before I Begin Another" by Jan Heller Levi
"All my stories are about being left,
all yours about leaving. So we should have known.
Should have known to leave well enough alone;
we knew, and we didn’t."
15"I Don't Miss It" by Tracy K. Smith
"But sometimes I forget where I am,
Imagine myself inside that life again.
Recalcitrant mornings. Sun perhaps,
Or more likely colorless light"
16"The Flurry" by Sharon Olds
of tears mount to the acrobat platforms
of my ducts and do their burning leaps.
Some of them jump straight sideways, and, for a
moment, I imagine a flurry
of tears like a whirra of knives thrown
at a figure, to outline it—a heart’s spurt
of rage. It glitters, in my vision, I nod
to it, it is my hope."
17"You Love, You Wonder" by Brenda Shaughnessy
"You wonder where she goes all night. If she leaves you, you will know
everything about love. If she’s leaving you now, you already know it."
18"Hyacinth" by Louise Glück
"And from the blood of the wound
a flower sprang, lilylike, more brilliant
than the purples of Tyre."
19"Mine Is the First Rodeo, Mine Is the Last Accolade" by Jaswinder Bolina
"I’m grateful to the man now sleeping with my ex-lover.
It’s true I loved her, but it’s right that someone be with her now
in the dark hour of our republic. Life is no good anymore."
20"Conjugal Elegy" by Valerie Wetlaufer
"You held my hand
. We listened to the Callas arias on our porch. You kept rewinding the love song back to the beginning to the place where she saings, Certainly not today."
21"stop bath" by Kirby Knowlton
"they say that every
seven years your body replaces
cell it has ever known.
soon i will be new again."