Late last month, I got the idea to post a "love" poem every day in February. Thinking about it, I realised that 95% of my poems that could arguably be considered a poem about love aren't romantic. I just don't write romantic love poems all that often. I think I've written maybe three, ever, and I don't know where two of them are. (One of them ended up in Poetry Against Cancer.)
This, I decided, was perfect.
I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day. I find the idea of giving someone a five euro card and a box of chocolates or flowers and rushing out to an expensive restaurant to prove to other couples that you're in love a bit...odd. Especially since Valentine's Day seems to be some "romantic" competition. Everyone in a relationship has to do something on Valentine's Day, or no one will believe they're in love, or in a relationship, or whatever the heck sort of excuses people use to go out on Valentine's Day.
Frankly, it bewilders me. I don't think I'll ever celebrate it in the typical way. I don't think I'll buy someone a card produced en masse by a company who says it's romantic. I'd prefer write a poem that says how I feel.
Still, I think 28 poems on the theme of love is a suitable substitute. Even if they do cover a lot of the issues in a relationship that aren't necessarily romantic, like not talking to each other, struggling to understand each other, breaking up, trying to get back together, and not really fitting together.
Why am I posting them, then, if they're not romantic? Because they're real. I'm not about to write 28 poems that you could find inside a Hallmark card. Most of these poems only make perfect sense when you've lived my life. But they're about love. They're about the love I've felt, love that hurt, love that wasn't fair, love that still bothers me and love that fills me with joy.
I'm not Adele. I'm not putting these poems out there to make someone look bad, because the reality is they tell a story about relationships, from the bad separations right up to making up again. The first dozen poems or so cover an interesting arc in my life, and they'll continue on like that, taking snippets from my life when things hurt a little too much to celebrating moments when life just felt wonderful.
These aren't poems about me being in love. These are poems about how I experience it. Some will read angrily. Some will read pleasantly. Some will be sad, and some will be happy.
The Beatles once said "All you need is love." In a sense, that's true. But it doesn't have to come from a Hallmark card. It doesn't have to be limited to the person you share a bed with. Love isn't romance. Love isn't perfect. But, I think, if you really want to experience life, you need to recognise that you love someone. Love someone who hurts you sometimes. Love someone despite their flaws - because you stop noticing them. Love someone because they make you happy. Love someone who makes you feel confident.
And if you're feeling brave, tell them how you feel.