Valentine Reads: “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair”

We all know Valentine’s Day is commercialized. We should be celebrating our loved ones every day, singles get the short end of the stick, most of us only care about the chocolate, etc. etc. Instead of drowning in despair over capitalistic hedonism, why not drown in the despair of Pablo Neruda’s “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair?” Ideal if you’re a secret hopeless romantic who is mad at your partner, you’re a pining single, and/or you’ve run out of quality fanfiction with your OTP.

These poems are beautiful, striking, and heart-wrenching. Neruda twists surreal imagery with truths of human connection. The result is a powerful narrative encapsulating the experience of being romantically involved. When I read these poems, I too almost felt like I was going through the motions – falling in love, futilely hoping, having my heart broken.

Read it in Spanish if you can, otherwise I recommend the version I linked above.

Some memorable lines:

Here I love you and the horizon hides you in vain. / I love you still among these cold things.

– “Aquí te amo”

Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

– “Puedo escribir”

The birds of night peck at the first stars / That flash like my soul when I love you.

– “Inclinado en las tardes”

Pablo Neruda and Edna St. Vincent Millay are my favorite poets and are big inspirations to my writing.

Check out more of Pablo’s work and maybe look up some of Millay’s poems to top off a perfect anti-capitalistic hedonism version of Valentine’s Day.

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The Imperativeness of Being Earnest

To be honest, honesty is overrated. Earnestness, on the other hand, is extremely undervalued.

Who hasn’t before heard (if not said) the passive-aggressive preface, “Just being honest?” Firstly, honesty is not an excuse to be an asshole. Honesty should only be used where an outsider perspective that conflicts with another’s interpretation of events is constructive, whether that be to truly help someone for their own benefit or to defend yourself if your rights are violated.

Secondly, honesty is an abstract notion. Honesty, according to Merriam Webster, is “adherence to the facts.” But when we preface a subjective statement with “just being honest,” we are not honestly adhering to the correct definition. Who is to say that my interpretation of reality is a fact? The only fact in that statement would be the fact that you think something different.

Finally, people know that being “honest” can often provoke others. They sometimes thus use honesty as a pretext for inaction, likely also blaming the other party for not permitting them to be honest, which brings me to my next point.

We seem to confuse honesty of words with something virtuous. Sticking to the “facts” is impossible. But being sincere is not.

It is an age old adage that “actions speak louder than words.” Honesty is certainly not always the best option, but earnestness usually is. If you truly, honestly care about someone, it isn’t so much the content of your words that will demonstrate it as it is your actions. Listening to people. Reaching out to them. Gestures that show you want to understand and care for them. Is this always completely possible? Of course not. But it is indeed the thought that counts, and more.

The Taming of the Who?

A brief clarification: refuse to pursue those who aren’t worth it. In other words, those who don’t reciprocate the same level of openness and accountability for their actions when it comes to their relationships. Choose friends and companions who show they care.

I am constantly reminded of Antoine Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince and the notion of l’apprivoisement. L’apprivoisement is, in short, the deliberate action of making friends. It is singling out an individual one feels is worth knowing and deliberately taking action to further understand said individual. Unfortunately, while it accurately connotes the patience it takes to forge relationships, it doesn’t fully encapsulate all of the complexities that come with it.

Forging or maintaining a relationship is a reciprocal action. It is not simply a domesticator and a domesticated. There must be volition on both sides. It is not as simple as my declaring that I want to be your friend, persistently asking you questions to get to know you, and then happy end.

I find that expressing feelings through writing when rejection or disappointment occurs is cathartic. But it is just that – expression. It is not necessarily a basis for decision nor an attempt to apprivoiser through flowery words like Cyrano de Bergerac and Roxane.

We need to stop mistaking feelings for finality and start choosing people who prioritize us as much as we do them. When it comes to the people we choose to stay in our circles, we express our feelings with writing. But we make our decisions with our brains.

“I remember you as you were”

I remember you as you were those months ago –

The budding marigold in the arms of the wind.

Time has spiked silence on our court and pinned

Our tangled nights to the bullseye, but even so

In my thoughts your gaze still volleys with mine;

We walk through the zoo of lights, aquarium of words,

Bump shoulders and fingers. Still, the birds we heard

In the cedar trees have long since flown. The train line

We rode to fields of rice has stopped for now.

But I’ll pick up the blossoms of days with you from the ground,

And put them in a pot of soil till we meet again, whenever

That may be. I’ll set them on the windowsill and vow

To leave and let bloom, till the day comes around –

We’ll meet, we’ll embrace, and embrace – a moment of forever.

Written January 17, 2019.

Parameters: Inspired by Pablo Neruda’s own “I remember you as you were” poem, very loose Petrarchan sonnet

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“You threaded your fingers through my hair”

You threaded your fingers through my hair, kissed my jaw, and said,

“It’s a shame time was too short, space too long.” I was hushed

By your butterfly lips that quivered on my neck, and shushed

By your weaving arms around my waist. I wanted instead

For you to say, “No matter the oceans between us to tread,

No matter what storms, crowds, chaos be spread, I’d rush

Through the cosmos to reach your side. I’d crush

The hourglasses to shards and sweep the sand, so I could dart ahead

Of time itself to the point where our lines once more converge

For when we are together, timing doesn’t matter.”

Yet when your hands tangled in mine I cared not about forever,

But rather if you thought that then was right and meant to be as well?

With a knotted kiss and coiled legs, the chance and urge

To ask fluttered away, and now, only time will tell.

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“When we said goodbye on Beacon Street”

When we said goodbye on Beacon Street we hugged.

I smelled must on your jacket, lemon-mint in your hair.

I would have sighed, nested my chin in your shrug

In another universe, but all I dared

Was smile before walking away. In another universe

It may well be that we’d’ve kissed as lovers will,

Embraced, laced hands, awoken side by side, traversed

Deserts, mountains, planets, and shooting stars until

We’re at the moon river’s end, just to go back and return

Again. In another universe, maybe

We’d hug and not go, or we’d never have met and I’d not yearn.

But in this universe we said goodbye on Beacon Street

And though in another universe, I’d be a lover if I could,

Perhaps in this universe, “goodbye” is just as good.

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Another face in the crowd

A brief contemplation on a naive young woman’s first sexual encounter and the meaning of intimacy – whether physical or romantic.

When they first met, to her, he was just another face in the crowd, standing at the top of the stairs, waiting, looking out at the mountains sprawling beyond the traffic of the city.

But the night he brought her home and kissed her, he whispered against her lips that he wanted her. It was only at that moment that she really saw his face for the first time.

Continue reading “Another face in the crowd”