How to Write a Love Poem


Asking me to do this,

Is like tearing the wallet from

the pauper’s hands, to make him pay

for the orphanage.


It did not exist at home

unless taped to the shafts of switches

I learned to murder before smile

and my father creating me

broken, wounded, brittle.

Left with mother

I learned to



danger ahead.


So this is how it’s done,

I start with my fingers, pressing them

evenly upon my breastbone, harder, until

my fingernails pierce my chest and I begin

to bleed. Push past the

fat and soft flesh, where I begin

to hit, knuckle to bone.

Hit harder.

Harder still!

Until the crunching bone breaks

and my chest is exposed to air. Insert

my fingers between and pull

ribs broken, screaming to protect

the brittle, hardened flesh beating

within. Tear it, slurping from inside and lay

it on the floor before me, surround it with paper,

I kneel,

Raise my fists

and pound the flesh to begin

to soften, to make right the unknown tenderness.

Drops of crimson splattering

the poem.

this is what I do

and today I am not in love.

© Michael Barry 2013