In grade school we would
send pink paper Valentines

and look for blushes.
The heart’s fulfillment in o-
ther’s sudden pleasure

at best. At worst, no-
thing: indifference. And so
one learned self-hatred.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at and other sites.

2 thoughts on “Valentines”

  1. The perspective in this poem raises questions that, for me, relate to the phenomenon of mass shootings and the fact that the murder spree usually ends in the suicide of the killer, either by himself or by police. In the case of the recent Florida school shooting, the shooter, although not killed, said he wanted to die killing other people. Even Hitler ended his “spree” by suicide. In Why Buddhism Is True, Robert Wright points out the relationship between the inner and outer worlds, how they reflect one another. Who can’t see the self-hatred flowing out of Donald Trump. That poor bum seems to be such a lost cause. When he comes to mind, I can’t help but follow up with Obama.

    I say this because your poem’s last word comes as a sharp, and surprising, emotional moment, almost like a sudden cut by a shard of glsss. As the indifference doesn’t start in the classroom, but it the home, but the home itself in the culture, the poem begs to go deeper. Into the heart of the American family and what’s going on there.

    I say all this because your poem, for me, signals the state of the American man right now, particularly the white man. Robert Wright talks in the above book candidly about his self-hatred and how he is going about addressing it through Vipassana meditation.


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