Poets’ Corner: An “Un-Valentine” for Valentine’s Day

Poets’ Corner: An “Un-Valentine” for Valentine’s Day

Are you a Valentine’s Day cynic? Do you object to all the sappy sentiment with sugar on top we are forced to consume in excess on one particular day in February? Are you over the oh-so-impersonal flowers, chocolates, and too cute teddy bear staples that pretty much scream, “I gave this zero thought!”? Over all that? So is poet-author-professor and Telluride local Amy Irvine, who writes her heart out in this beautiful, if sexy and messy, “Un-Valentine.” Yes, love is a many splendored thing. But shouldn’t it also be everyday in every way?

And please note: Amy is founder of the 4th annual Telluride Literary Arts Festival’s infamous Literary Burlesque, which sells out every year. This year, the Festival takes place May 18 -21.

Rodin’s "The Kiss"

Rodin’s “The Kiss”

The Un-Valentine by Amy Irvine 

I could offer up those greasy platitudes, fingered as they are.

Make my eyes butterflies, all flutter and beckon.

I could slide on class of silk or raunch of mesh—

either way, you know how to slide it off again.

I could lick the pink, sick-sweet flap, seal the Hallmark.

Fill both flute and tub with bubbles iridescent.

I could scatter red petals. Feed you whiskey-spiced truffles.

You would, I know, respond accordingly.

I could dance, let that boa snake

between my thighs, Eve’s serpent in the tree.

Oh, how these boughs bend, entwine, pull

You. Into this mirage—dark and slick. We live in a desert, after all.

We both know how this ends:

Me on my knees. Paying homage.

It would feel like love, right?

Or is it that you would feel obliged?

But what if I crawled naked, through harsh white light,

across that sand-strewn, drought-stricken, god-forsaken land

we both call home? What if I came broken, bloodied,

cactus-punctured, reeking of sweat and sage, vultures circling overhead?

What if I opened these convoluted canyons,

the unmapped territory of my heart?

What then, would love look like?

Would possession still be nine-tenths of the law?


About Amy Irvine:

Amy Irvine by Susie Grant

Amy Irvine by Susie Grant

Amy Irvine’s work has appeared in Orion, Triquarterly, Climbing, High Desert Journal and in numerous western, nature and environmental anthologies. Her second book, “Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land,” received the Orion Book Award and Colorado Book Award—while the Los Angeles Times wrote that it “might very well be Desert Solitaire’s literary heir.” Amy’s recent essay “Spectral Light” (Orion, January-February 2010 /The Best American Science and Nature Writing of 2011), was a finalist for the Pen Award in Journalism. Amy recently completed a faculty fellowship in Southern New Hampshire University’s low-residency MFA program, where she now teaches. She is founding director of the Telluride Literary Festival’s “Literary Burlesque,” in which she also performs annually.


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