Valentines Day Poetry: verses for every stage of your relationship

Poems for everything from first dates to break-ups, by Tracey S Rosenberg, William Letford, JL Williams and Katherine McMahon

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Valentines Day Poetry: verses for every stage of your relationship

Are you in the mood for love or desperate to get shot of that partner? We pick four Scottish poems to inspire you towards hooking up or breaking up

Step 1: The First Date

'How to Drink on the First Date' by Tracey S Rosenberg

You're different. I can tell.
For you I'll say: let's skip the pub entirely.
I know this little place off the Links
where the only drinks they serve are
chocolate.

Let's start slowly, with these drinks I could indulge in till dawn:
plain hot chocolate, or spiked with chilli.
They offer whipped cream and marshmallows. I forgive you asking if I want
either or both; you've only just met me. You don't know yet.

There's a round table in the front window, big enough for two.
Set down your mug; squeeze it with both hands
and breathe. Let chocolate introduce itself before you dive in.
Don't rush.
We have plenty of time.

Taken from Lipstick is Always a Plus (Stewed Rhubarb)

Step 2: The Seduction

'Sex poem number 3' by William Letford

buckles belts buttons clips
jeans jeans
socks
stretch for the socks
negotiate the heel
negotiate the heel
pants
slow for the pants
then another person's skin
fingertips fine hairs follicles
then couch to carpet
elbows knees
focus
acknowledge the clues
quickness of breath
pressure on shoulders
pressure on hips
don’t get distant
smile
make eye contact
love
if at all possible
love

Taken from Bevel (Carcanet Press)

Step 3: The Long-Term Relationship

'Island' by JL Williams

Still your breath makes of my body an island
deserted but for two tigers,
thousands of butterflies,
warmth like the equatorial sun's
hot push toward water,
endlessly lapping waves.

Locust and Marlin will be published by Shearsman on Sat 15 Feb.

Step 4: The Break-up

from 'Gold' by Katherine McMahon

My ex-girlfriend
sent me a picture of a cracked pot
with fat, sparkling veins,
and a legend that said something like:
when the Japanese mend objects
they aggrandise the damage
by filling the cracks with gold,
because they believe that there is treasure
in the history of things.

Sometimes it's hard to believe
in green shoots,
and coming back.
Fact: there are plants
that can only germinate after forest fires,
when the ground forgives the burning trees
with fertile ashes.

Taken from Treasure in the History of Things (Stewed Rhubarb)

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