Be Mine15 Valentine’s-Day Poems by Queer People of Color

Love is a universal emotion. Yet for many, to love is a radical act. And to love themselves and their lovers outwardly is revolutionary. These poems, written by queer people of color, celebrate experiences and expressions of love so often missing from mainstream narratives. Here are excerpts from fifteen beautiful explorations of love—romantic love, familial love, self love—to serve as alternatives to all of the mainstream Shakespeare-esque narratives of love being thrown around this time of year. (Click the title to read the full poem.)

 

1. “Love Poem” by Audre Lorde

“Speak earth and bless me with what is richest
make sky flow honey out of my hips
rigis mountains
spread over a valley
carved out by the mouth of rain.”

 

2. “Poem For My Love” by June Jordan

“I am amazed by peace
It is this possibility of you
asleep
and breathing in the quiet air”

 

3. “Open” by Kim Crosby

“Before you asked me to love you,
You moved mountains so I could love me”

 

4. “Ghazal for Becoming Your Own Country” by Angel Nafis

“Know what the almost-gone dandelion knows. Piece by piece
The body prayers home. Its whole head a veil, a wind-blown bride.”

 

5. “ ‘Sthandwa’ sami” by Yrsa Daley-Ward

“my thoughts about you are frightening but precise
I can see the house on the hill where we make our own vegetables out back
and drink warm wine out of jam jars
and sing songs in the kitchen until the sun comes up
wena you make me feel like myself again.”

 

6. “Munich, Winter 1973 (for Y.S.)” by James Baldwin

“In a strange house,
a strange bed
in a strange town,
a very strange me
is waiting for you.”

 

7. “My Lover is a Woman” by Pat Parker

“my lover’s eyes are blue
& when she looks at me
i float in a warm lake
feel my muscles go weak with want
feel good
feel safe”

 

8. “The 17-Year-Old & the Gay Bar” By Danez Smith

“i want to live on his tongue, build a home of gospel & gayety
i want to raise a city behind his teeth for all boys of choirs & closets to refuge in.
i want my new god to look at the mecca i built him & call it damn good”

 

9. “You Love, You Wonder” by Brenda Shaughnessy

“You wonder where she goes all night. If she leaves you, you will know
everything about love. If she’s leaving you now, you already know it.”

 

10. “Nocturne: Beheaded” by Saeed Jones

“Do you hear me raining from the wound? My tongue
is a kingdom You live there.”

 

11. “Winter” by Chen Chen

“I mean, one winter night I got sick & pooped the bed.
& he just got up with me.
Helped strip the sheets, carry it all to the washer.
I kept saying, I’m so sorry, shivering, I’m so, I’m sorry. But he said, What? Hey. I love you.”

 

12. “Grief Work” by Natalie Diaz

“I have gazed the black flower blooming
her animal eye. Gacela oscura. Negra llorona.”

 

13. “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong” by Ocean Vuong

“Ocean, don’t be afraid.
The end of the road is so far ahead
it is already behind us.”

 

14. “This Is a Shout Out (For the Tenants of the Red Little Building on Ocean Avenue)” by Amber Atiya

“to mama’s hands, mad stallions pummeling dough for biscuits, cherry-scented
butter-smeared fists or floured moons”

 

15. “My Love for Nature” by Fatimah Asghar

“My love for the past is like my love
for most things. I only feel it when
I’m gone.”

by Sabrina Nelson
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Sabrina Nelson is a senior at Reed College, studying for a degree in Sociology. She is interested in the disparity in access to healthcare, food security, and education, and is writing her senior thesis on menstrual inequality and the emerging menstrual movement. When not immersed in those worlds, she spends her time laughing really loudly, writing poetry and reading books about witches. Sabrina loves the ocean, really long walks and baking without a recipe. 

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