Guest poem submitted by Bob Cooper, back in February; we're only getting to run it now:
(Poem #865) Valentine
Not a red rose or a satin heart. I give you an onion. It is a moon wrapped in brown paper. It promises light like the careful undressing of love. Here. It will blind you with tears like a lover. It will make your reflection a wobbling photo of grief. I am trying to be truthful. Not a cute card or kissogram. I give you an onion. Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips, possessive and faithful as we are, for as long as we are. Take it. Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding ring, if you like. Lethal. Its scent will cling to your fingers, cling to your knife.
From "Mean time" Anvil books, 1993. Some poems stay with you from the moment you read them. This is one of them. It's direct. Simple. Worth going back to. It's allusive. I hear Cordelia telling King Lear she loves him like salt. I hear Peer Gynt peeling his onion. Then I just hear the poet, again, telling it how it is for her and her lover with the uncomfortable frankness and absurdity we sometimes need when we start using the language of love. I guess it's as simply complicated as any or all relationships that mean so much to each of us. I think its strength is partly because of its juxtaposition of positive and negative features, and because we are never left with anything that's clearly good or distinctly bad. I hope it isn't just a poem of the 1990s. Bob Cooper. [About the poet] Originally she's from Glasgow, but she learnt a lot about poetry in Liverpool (where she was a pal of Adrian Henri). Now she knocks around in London with Jackie Kay (another poet from Glasgow). Dated details of her poetry are in the Oxford Companion to 20th Century Literature.