Valentine for Ernest Mann

Valentine for Ernest Mann

You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, “I’ll take two”
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
“I thought they had such beautiful eyes.”
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the off sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

Naomi Shihab Nye

This is my valentine for all those who don’t get poetry but actually do and for all those who think they do but don’t and those that think they don’t but don’t bother to try.  And especially for all those who think is does not matter. (It does.) Nothing is ugly just because the world says so. Re-invent as valentines and they become beautiful.

Here’s the challenge: Go find a poem!

And look! 

poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping

Boots, Polish and Brushes, Henry Silk (1883-1947)

Poems are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up

What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Edvins Strautmanis
Morning Shadows, 1972

Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Skunk and Magnolias, Jessica Roux.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, 

Matt Bollinger, Storage, 2015

the off sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

 Objects of every sort are materials for the new artpaintchairsfoodelectric and neon lightssmokewaterold socks, a dogmovies, a thousand other things which will be discovered by the present generation.

– Allan Kaprow, after being inspired by a visit to the studio of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. Art News 1958 essay “The Legacy of Jackson Pollock”.

Kirsty Elson, Cottages made from driftwood and old nails.

Parsnips and Turnips, Eliot Hodgkin, 1962

Go up to the counter and order two poems on a shiny plate.

Taco Stand, Jenny Chang

Two Tacos on a Shiny Plate, Holly Exley.

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