Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love Poems For Strangers

Listen: Poemflowers was the single best thing I've ever spent a Valentine's Day doing. Man oh MAN it was joyous. People just light up when you give them gifts for no reason. "For ME?" they kept saying. "For ME?" Yeah, for you. Why? Because you deserve it, dammit.

I ran into one of my very favorite poets while I was in the
Bart station giving out flowers, purely by magical chance.
He took this photo, which I promptly stole from his Insta-
gram. Sorry, Toaster. 

People like to feel like the universe is handing them wonderful things through chance and synchronicity. I had one kid tell me that he'd been having a horrible morning and he'd missed three buses and now he knew why - because otherwise he would never have gotten a flower. Another man told me he was going to give the flower to a woman who meant the world to him and then said - looking a little tearful - that the world has a way of bringing you things just when you most need them and think they're least likely to appear. The lesson in all this: next year I'm doing it again, only I'm making a thousand flowers instead of a hundred.

And now I'd like to give credit to the amazing poets who contributed their poems to this project, without whom this would never have been possible. And not just credit - they wrote these poems for you, after all. If you didn't get a flower yesterday, well, these poems are for you every day, in the same way that love is not one day in February but a whole bloody lifetime. A couple of poets submitted several poems, and I had to choose a few from each just to keep down the printing costs this time around, but I made sure that everyone who submitted a poem had at least one piece made into a flower. Here are all the poems that were given out yesterday, love poems for you, o stranger.

To love with the intensity of air congealed
And struck by the sudden silence of birds
May not be wise, but how can it be helped
By such a fool as falls at the speed of water?
The monsoon in my breast beats for you.
Please know that you are adored, dear stranger,
As infinitely as rain is absorbed by the sky.

Evvie Marin

Dear Sir or Madam,
We haven't met and yet
How it makes my eyes crinkle to think
Of a park bench bathed in setting light,
Where we sit for a spell and tell our cares and qualms,
While tracing the living maps of each others' palms.

The pleasure that might bring us wayward two
Echoes effortless and onward through
The cores of several hundred-thousand someones,
Waiting achey-patient yet to meet you.

Evvie Marin

A Crossed Room

I first felt your arrival
because the room changed
temperature, the air changed
consistency: everything
was warm,
everything soft
had a thrill run through it,
hearts woke up.

You were a reflection
in the mirror I was looking
at. We met across the room. Now
you were coming
closer. Any moment,
your hand,
my shoulder,
both will become real.

Ryk McIntyre


Stranger, you may not know it,
but when your hands unfold this poem,
my heart will beat like all the saints
have gone marching in.
Like a 3-year-old with an electronic toy.
Like a labrador’s dream of a rabbit.
With every crease your fingers pull,
you prompt new words from the silent voice,
you lift and release the blue curtains in my throat
that flow like ghost company. Maybe I have not spoken
in years. Keep unrolling this I have written for you.
A tinman’s oil, you open my wires.
This is a serenade for you. I cannot apologize
for the strange looks people will give you
as they hear this paper sing. I have asked God
that, at the end of the day, She check in with me,
grab a beer, and tell me how many people
thanked Her today because they saw your face.

Annie Robertson


At some point, an atom you breathed out today
will enter into my body. Thank you.
I like all that Gandhi, Frida Kahlo,
Keira Knightley, Garcia Lorca up in you.
I like all that you up in you.

Annie Robertson

Love Bug

You with sunshine shoulders,
I like the way you breathe.
Your accent is Jiminy Cricket,
a boy’s best friend, so don’t lose
that voice of yours. I am the kid who needs
his insect. Come ride your words
in the palm of my shaded hand.
I will think there’s a legend
that you’re lucky or something.
I will keep you uncrushed.

Annie Robertson

Catching a Hot

For you, I’m going to go stand in the cold.
Until I get sick.
And then, near enough for you to hear,
I’m going to sneeze.
just to hear you say,
“bless you.”

Annie Robertson

A Fortune

You are a bellini drunk on a Sunday.
You look good in every light.
You are waking up in a yellow room.
You are the belly of Ganesha, touched
for luck, for love. Strangers cross their fingers
when they pass you, hoping to catch
your molecules. Stranger, my fingers
are crossed, hoping you can feel
bellini drunk on this senseless
and lovely Friday. That you are
well, and whole.

Annie Robertson

There's something about the turning light
that brings my heart across oceans.
I am a sunset away from you, hills soaked in light rain.
Our hands have not touched -
I can taste your parched streets
from here.

Today I want my toes to curl up against yours under the sheets, today
I want to ruffle your hair
and smell your neck, today
I want to jaywalk with you.
Breathe in the bay
Breathe out our lives
into each other's palms.

Two ships come in through the Golden Gate.
Their radios are silent
together they circle Alcatraz,
Angel Island,
they dance by the freedom of the Richmond bridge.
But the hills hem them in and
they leave before morning.

Simka Senyak

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Life doesn't suck
And neither do you

Jon Sivel

It is cold here on the east coast
snows like sand in the wind
air that chills through my long black coat
but my heart holds a blooming love
like the first glowing green shoots
of the garlic reaching for the light
that comes with the gentle coaxing of March
this love blooms and grows and warms
I smile with chapped lips

Lydia Sivel-Irons

Friday, February 14, 2014

Poemflowers TODAY!

Valentine's Day, as we have said before, is kind of a stressful holiday for something supposedly dedicated to love. To mitigate a little of the loneliness, the Museum put together Poemflowers, turning love poems written for strangers from people all over the country into paper flowers to be given out on the streets this afternoon.

Some poemflowers in progress...
...and some finished bouquets ready to carry forth for

We're delighted that creative folks in other cities liked the idea enough to get in on a Poemflowers event of their own. The lucky folks of Dallas, TX will be treated to these glorious creations from a Museum co-conspirator...

If you're in San Francisco and you'd like to join us in handing out poemflowers, we'll be meeting up at 5:30 at 16th Street Mission Bart (just past the turnstiles) before setting off with our bouquets. Supplies of flowers are admittedly a little limited, but we'll make sure you get to give out at least a few. We'll be posting poems throughout the day on the Museum Facebook page, so if you're feeling a little bitter in the midst of all the sugary sweetness, swing by the page and read some poems written for you. Yes, you, stranger, who are more loved than you know.
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