(Note: there are some additional heartbreak poems on my Poems page.)

Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart. –Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

There are so many things to be tortured about, sweet pea. So many tortuous things in this life. Don’t let a man who doesn’t love you be one of them. –ditto

You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else. –ditto

We aren’t supposed to get over our exes by tracking their every move on Facebook and Twitter, sweetie. Facebook and Twitter are heartbreak torture machines. –ditto

We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it. –Rainer Maria Rilke, “Requiem For a Friend”

[On surviving heartbreak:] You let time pass. That’s the cure. You survive the days. You float like a rabid ghost through the weeks. You cry and wallow and lament and scratch your way back up through the months. And then one day you find yourself alone on a bench in the sun and you close your eyes and lean your head back and you realize you’re okay. –Dear Sugar, December 16, 2010

Then you’d sob and sob and sob so hard you couldn’t stand up until finally you’d go quiet and your head would weigh seven hundred pounds and you’d lift it from your hands and rise to walk into the bathroom to look at yourself solemnly in the mirror and you’d know for sure that you were dead. Living but dead. And all because this person didn’t love you anymore or even if he/she loved you he/she didn’t want you and what kind of life was that? It was no life. There would be no life anymore. There would only be one unbearable minute after another and during each and every one of those minutes this person you wanted would not want you and so you would begin to cry again and you’d watch yourself cry pathetically in the mirror until you couldn’t cry anymore, so you’d stop. –Dear Sugar, May 6, 2010

Should you call? You should not call. But you always called. You couldn’t help but call because your heart was crushed and you thought maybe if you talked it out one more time the person who crushed your heart would change his/her mind and uncrush it. –ditto

Fear of being alone is not a good reason to stay. –Dear Sugar, May 20, 2010

It’s sad, but a relief as well, to know that two things so closely bound together can separate with so little violence. –Julie Powell, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession

Food that exceeds its “use by” or “best before” date, my teacher explained, loses nutritional value and eventually goes rancid. The same thing, I realized, just might hold true for a relationship that’s past its prime: It not only fails to fortify you, it can even make you sick. –Brooke Fisher, “Everything Has a Shelf Life”

Losing love is like organ damage. It’s like dying. The only difference is, death ends. This? It can go on forever. –Ellen Pompeo, in “Grey’s Anatomy ”

I wanted impossible things. I wanted my life with her before it all turned bad. What I had been given had been taken away and now I was even less than before. –Philip Ó Ceallaigh, “Another Love Story”

If you’re old and happy, I can imagine that you’ll maybe smile to yourself when you hear me going, He broke my heart. You’ll remember listening to music and eating chocolates in your room, or walking along the Embankment on your own, wrapped up in a winter coat and feeling lonely and brave. But can you remember how with every mouthful of food it felt like you were biting into your own stomach? Can you remember the taste of red wine as it came back up and into the toilet bowl? Can you remember dreaming every night that you were still together, that he was talking to you gently and touching you, so that every morning when you woke up you had to go through it all over again? Can you remember carving his initials in your arm with a kitchen knife? Can you remember standing too close to the edge of an Underground platform? No? Well, fucking shut up, then. Stick your smile up your saggy old arse. –Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down

Marriage is like fruit you hold in your hand, a peach or a tomato. You hold it in your hand and squeeze it lightly, then squeeze it harder and enjoy it, feeling the elastic resistance as something living, living flesh, a woman’s hip or breast, and you go on squeezing, not hard, for that is not what you want, but harder; you think of the fruit, and it keeps its shape and substance, although you are squeezing; you must hold it in your hand as something good and living which is to be there until the end of life; you lull yourself into the illusion that it will never burst, and at that moment it bursts. A small split in the outer layer of the skin of the fruit appears between your fingers, a few drops of moisture ooze out and the skin of your fingers feels it. Not until then do you squeeze really hard, from disappointment or surprise, or in the lack of restraint of awakening, and if it is young fruit and tenderly cared for, the split can nevertheless be very deep without the fruit losing its shape and firmness, and it other cases it breaks and disintegrates forever into sticky, fragrant, utterly uncontrollable dissolution. That is like marriage. –Christer Kihlman, The Blue Mother

A failed marriage is the most humiliating confirmation of the transitory seduction of the flesh. Lovers can explore every line, every curve and hollow, of the beloved’s body, can together reach the height of inexpressible ecstasy; yet how little it matters when love or lust at last dies and we are left with disputed possessions, lawyers’ bills, the sad detritus of the lumber-room, when the house chosen, furnished, possessed with enthusiasm and hope has become a prison, when faces are set in lines of peevish resentment and bodies no longer desired are observed in all their imperfections with a dispassionate and disenchanted eye. –PD James, The Children of Men

There is a rhythm to the ending of a marriage just like the rhythm of a courtship—only backward. You try to start again but get into blaming over and over. Finally you are both worn out, exhausted, hopeless. Then lawyers are called in to pick clean the corpses. The death has occurred much earlier. –Erica Jong, How to Save Your Own Life


Somewhere a seed falls to the ground
That will become a tree
That will someday be felled
From which thin shafts will be extracted
To be made into arrows
To be fitted with warheads
One of which, someday when you least expect it,
While a winter sun is shining
On a river of ice
And you feel farthest from self-pity,
Will pierce your shit-filled heart.
–Michael Fried, “Somewhere a Seed”


They amputated
your thighs from my hips.
As far as I’m concerned, they’re always
doctors. All of them.

They dismantled us
from each other. As far as I’m concerned,
they’re engineers.
A pity. We were such a good and loving
invention: an airplane made of a man and a woman,
wings and all:
we even got off
the ground a little.
We even flew.
–Yehuda Amichai, “A Pity. We Were Such a Good Invention”


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.

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 a 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.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.
–Carol Ann Duffy, “Valentine”


Had I known that the heart
breaks slowly, dismantling itself
into unrecognizable plots of

Had I known the heart would leak,
slobbering its sap, with a vulgar
visibility, into the dressed-up
dining rooms of strangers,

Had I known that solitude could
stifle the breath, loosen the joint,
and force the tongue against the

Had I known that loneliness could
keloid, winding itself around the
body in an ominous and beautiful

Had I known, yet I would have loved
you, your brash and insolent beauty,
your heavy comedic face
and knowledge of sweet

But from a distance.
I would have left you whole and wholly
for the delectation of those who
wanted more and cared less.
–Maya Angelou, “Prescience”


Since you walked out on me
I’m getting lovelier by the hour.
I glow like a corpse in the dark.
No one sees how round and sharp
my eyes have grown
how my carcass looks like a glass urn,
how I hold up things in the rags of my hands,
the way I can stand through crippled by lust.
No, there’s just your cruelty circling
my head like a bright rotting halo.
–Nina Cassian, “Lady of Miracles”


don’t send

–Andre Segui, “How the Bloom Leaves the Rose”


You thought I was that type:
that you could forget me,
and that I’d plead and weep and throw myself
under the hooves of a bay mare,

or that I’d ask the sorcerers
for some magic potion made from roots
and send you a terrible gift:
my precious perfumed handkerchief.

Damn you! I will not grant
your cursed soul vicarious tears
or a single glance.
And I swear to you by the
garden of the angels,
I swear by the miracle-working ikon,
and by the fire and smoke of our nights:
I will never come back to you.
–Anna Akhmatova, “You Thought I Was That Type”


I’m leaving.

You didn’t make me suffer
so you needn’t expect
my hatred.
That would be too splendid
and important a gift.
You’re not worth anything
as precious
as a shred of living flesh.

I’ve killed
your presence within me,

I’m cleansed.
I’m dancing a festive dance of murder.
–Anna Swir, “Dance of Murder”


Never offer your heart
to someone who eats hearts
who find heartmeat
but not rare
who sucks the juices
drop by drop
and bloody-chinned
like a God.
Never offer your heart
to a heart gravy lover.
Your stewed, overseasoned
heart consumed
he will sop up your grief
with bread
and send it shuttling
from side to side
in his mouth
like bubblegum.
If you find yourself
in love
with a person
who eats hearts
these things
you must do.
Freeze your heart
Let him—next time
he examines your chest—
find your heart cold
flinty and unappetizing.
Refrain from kissing
lest he in revenge
dampen the spark
in your soul.
sail away to Africa
where holy women
await you
on the shore—
long having practiced the art
of replacing hearts
with God and Song.
–Alice Walker, “Never Offer Your Heart to Someone Who Eats Hearts”

For my part, I prefer my heart to be broken.
It is so lovely, dawn-kaleidoscopic within the crack.
–DH Lawrence, “Pomegranate”

I swear, I want to punt everyone who thinks/has ever said “never give up on loooooove.” Sometimes, people just don’t work together, and painting that as some kind of fucked-up moral failing has accounted for a really huge and needless portion of misery in this world. –pope_suburban, on STFUmarrieds.com

I fervently believe that people shouldn’t stay in bad relationships just because of some artificial rom-com notion of true love being “forever.” In fact, I think that the pressure of conforming to that framework ruins—literally RUINS—a lot of people’s lives. –Lindy West, “I’m Very Upset About These Tori and Dean Cheating Rumors,” on Jezebel.com

The pains of true love reside at the heart of our existence; they catch hold of our most vulnerable point, rooting themselves deeper than the root of any other pain, and branching to every part of our bodies and our lives. For the hopelessly in love, the pain can be triggered by anything, whether as profound as the death of a father or as mundane as the piece of bad luck, like losing a key; such elemental pain can be flamed by any sort of spark. People whose lives have, like mine, been turned upside down by love can become convinced that all other problems will be resolved once the pain of love is gone, but in ignoring these problems they only allow them to fester. –Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence

It was as if first my stomach and then my entire abdomen were filling up with acid, as if sticky, red-hot little starfish were attaching themselves to my organs. As the pain grew more pervasive and intense, I would feel it climb into my forehead, over the back of my neck, my shoulders, my entire body, even invading my dreams to take a smothering hold of me. Sometimes, as diagrammed, a star of pain would form, centered on my navel, shooting shafts of acid to my throat, and my mouth, and I feared it would throttle me. If I hit the wall with my hand, or did a few calisthenics, or otherwise pushed myself as an athlete does, I could briefly block the pain, but at its most muted I could still feel it like an intravenous drip entering my bloodstream, and it was always there in my stomach; that was its epicenter. –ditto

I was lying on the bed like a corpse, though in pain and intensely aware of it, like an animal listening helplessly to its last breath. The pain was deeper and harsher than anything I had felt until that day, afflicting every part of me. … As I gave myself over to the pain, as acid-filled grenades exploded in my blood and bones, I sorted through my bundle of memories, one by one, distracting myself, briefly and intermittently, sometimes for ten or fifteen seconds, though sometimes for only one or two, until these same memories would propel me even deeper into the void of the present moment, the pain stunning me as if for the first time, a heretofore unknown magnitude of agony. One palliative for this new wave of pain, I discovered, was to seize upon an object of our common memories that bore her essence; to put it into my mouth and taste it brought some relief. –ditto

Even so, it can’t be denied that there’s a special kind of sadness that comes from seeing an ex’s name pop up on the internet. (I’m sure the Germans have a word for it.) –Daisy, “Laws of Attraction,” in the May 2013 issue of Marie Claire

You keep telling me to be glad for what we had while we had it. That the brightest flame burns quickest.
Which means you saw us as a candle. And I saw us as the sun.
–Iain S. Thomas, “The Forgotten Star”

You may continue to call it a breakup. I will continue to call it an exorcism. –Iain S. Thomas, “The Bastards Tied Me Down”

The heart is a muscle like any other and the best exercise you can do for it is called picking yourself up off the floor. –Iain S. Thomas, “The Water Flows Uphill”

I felt a pain somewhere around my heart, like somebody was squeezing it in their hand. Squeezing it till it stopped. Squeezing it till there was nothing left but a handful of needles and sawdust. –Lee Smith, “You Lock It Behind You”

I couldn’t allow myself to think about her very long; if I had I would have jumped off the bridge. It’s strange. I had become so reconciled to this life without her, and yet if I thought about her only for a minute it was enough to pierce the bone and marrow of my contentment and shove me back again into the agonizing gutter of my wretched past. –Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

How many thousand times, in walking through the streets at night, have I wondered if the day would ever come again when she would be at my side: all those yearning looks I bestowed on the buildings and statues, I had looked at them so hungrily, so desperately, that by now my thoughts must have become a part of the very buildings and statues, they must be saturated with my anguish. –ditto

But he understood it was over, and he felt able to let her go. He was sure their life together had happened in the way he said it had. But it was something that had passed. And that passing—though it had seemed impossible and he’d fought against it—would become a part of him now, too, as surely as anything else he’d left behind. –Raymond Carver, “Fever”

You’d think it would be easy for them to mark with red the cigarette that killed you so that you wouldn’t smoke it, the drink that does you in with a label cautioning you not to, the kiss that ends the world with flashing lights that spell out the words, “Stay Away.” –Iain S. Thomas, “The Invisible Warning Labels”

You should never pass up the chance to break your heart in new and interesting ways. –Iain S. Thomas, “The Way Forward”

When love begins, it’s easy to make something out of nothing.
When it ends, it’s much harder to turn that something back into nothing.
–Iain S. Thomas, “The Nothing”

... everyone knows when you’ve got a terrible marriage, it’s like having bad breath, you get close enough to a person and it’s obvious. –Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven

… and how my heart was incinerated,
expended for nothing.
–Marina Tsvetayeva, “You, Walking Past Me”

It was only later that I suffocated under the weight of his arguments, and his darker thoughts articulated. It was only later that our tongues produced landslides, that we become caught in the cracks between what we said and what we meant, until we could not find each other, did not trust the words in our own mouths. –Hannah Kent, Burial Rites

This isn’t me missing you. This is me missing the me I used to be.
This isn’t me.
–Iain S. Thomas, “The Seconds before Launch”


I like to think that somewhere
out there, on a planet exactly like
ours, two people exactly like you
and me made totally different
choices and that, somewhere,
we’re still together.

That’s enough for me.
–Iain S. Thomas, “The Twins”


You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me—the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods—
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house—, and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,—
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...
–Rainer Maria Rilke, “You Who Never Arrived”

I’m not scared of never meeting you. I’m scared of having met you and let you go. –Iain S. Thomas, “The Water Is on Fire”

I don’t think I can breathe now with you gone. –Heather Nova, “Not Only Human”

There’s no me if there’s no me and you. –Joseph Arthur, “Ashes Everywhere”

I will find a way to you if it kills me
if it kills me
if it kills me
(I think it might kill me).
–Jason Mraz, “If It Kills Me”

The pain over my heart returns, and from it I imagine tiny fissures spreading out into my body. Through my torso, down my arms and legs, over my face, leaving it crisscrossed with cracks. –Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay

... my heart and my trust were in the process of collapsing. And that collapse created a vacuum in my chest. Like every nerve in my body was withering in, pulling away from my fingers and toes. Pulling back and disappearing. –Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

It hurts and hurts to have him this close. I feel sick with it. –Jenny Downham, Before I Die

Marriage, children—you never expect it to end in tragedy. Unless you’re me. –Michael C. Hall, in Dexter

This was a kind of dying. Losing the woman I truly had loved, and still loved more than anything, was just unfathomable. To me, she was the world. –Andres Lokko, “To Manage as a Man...The Break-up”

Music that truly meant something, that always had helped me get through the most difficult times, was somehow now reduced to nothing but painful noise, the words way too close for comfort, the familiar voices who sang them only horrible reminders of what we once had. –ditto

... love was an illusion which civilization had produced to give a little order to the frequency of the sex act. –Christer Kihlman, The Blue Mother

There’s a you-shaped ache
in me. The missing part keens,
fleeing on bare feet.

Without you I am
unmoored. The boat cracks open,
reclaimed by the sea.

When you give someone your whole heart and he doesn’t want it, you cannot take it back. It’s gone forever. –Sylvia Plath, quoted by Elizabeth Sigmund in “Sylvia in Devon: 1962,” in Edward Butscher’s Sylvia Plath: The Woman and the Work

There’s nothing quite so humbling as thinking you’re completely over someone, then realizing you’re not even close. –Brian Strause, Maybe a Miracle

What I want to know is this: If love’s so great, why do you fall into it? You fall into a puddle. You fall into the mud. You fall into the abyss. –ditto

Sure, love screws everything up. Most stalkers think they’re in love. Mothers who kill their kids talk about how much they love them. Men who beat up their wives, it’s only because they’re so in love. People slowly suffocate each other with love all the time. Love is a weapon we use to hurt the ones we love. –ditto

Falling in love has been greatly overrated. Falling in love consists of 45 percent fear of not being accepted and 45 percent manic hope that this time the fear will be put to shame, and a modest 10 percent frail awareness of the possibility of love.
       I don’t fall in love anymore. Just like I don’t get the mumps. –Peter Høeg, Smilla’s Sense of Snow

When you break the heart of a philosopher, you must apply great force and cunning strategy, but when the deed is completed, the heart lies in great stony ruin at your feet. If you succeed in breaking it, the job is done once and for all. It will not be repaired. – Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love

The workings of nature are mysterious, but they do account for a certain amount of despair among single persons, the irrelevance you sometimes feel. –ditto

In truth, there are only two realities: the one for people who are in love or love each other, and the one for people who are standing outside all that. –ditto

You ain’t ever gonna burn my heart out. –Oasis, “Don’t Look Back in Anger”

Wedding rings: the world’s smallest handcuffs. –anonymous

Marriage is a romance in which the hero dies in the first chapter. –anonymous

You have two choices in life: you can stay single and be miserable, or get married and wish you were dead. –anonymous

Spouse: someone who’ll stand by you through all the trouble you wouldn’t have had if you'd stayed single. –anonymous

Marriage is an arrangement by which two people start by getting the best out of each other and often end by getting the worst. –Gerald Brenan, read in Andrew John and Stephen Blake’s Are You A Miserable Old Bastard?

A wedding is just like a funeral except that you get to smell your own flowers. –Grace Hansen, read in Andrew John and Stephen Blake’s Are You A Miserable Old Bastard?

Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution. –Mae West, read in Andrew John and Stephen Blake’s Are You A Miserable Old Bastard?

And what has become of it, where
is that
onetime love?
Now it is
the grave of a bird, a drop
of black quartz,
a chunk
of wood eroded by the rain.
–Pablo Neruda, “Loves: Terusa (I)”

Love, love,
where does it go to die?
To secret granaries,
under rosebushes which withered
beneath some seven feet of ash
from those miserable houses
burned out by a village fire?

… it occurred to him that with her gone he was solitary in everything, in the bare, cold roads that stretched from coast to coast intersecting only with each other, the monolithic industry that squatted by the roadsides, hunkered down, of infinite strip-mall suburbs where no sympathy could be found for what had evolved instead of being manufactured, what was abstract instead of concrete, where everything was made for the convenience of the barely sensate, the men who followed football and NASCAR and Bud Ice, the women who emptied ashtrays out of their car windows as they drove through the redwoods.
       In such a gray glittering world it would be impossible to find tired relief, much less home. –Lydia Millet, Oh Pure and Radiant Heart

It’s the nature of hearts to break. It’s in their job description. When a heart is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, it holds nothing back. And sometimes it gets broken. –Geneen Roth, “Let Your Heart Break”

“Do you know what hurts the most about a broken heart? Not being able to remember how you felt before. Try and keep that feeling, because if it goes, you’ll never get it back.”
“What happens then?”
“Then you lay waste to the world. And everything in it.”
–conversation between Hannah Murray and Joseph Dempsie, in Skins

Maybe true love isn’t meant to happen right now or ever, but that doesn’t mean that we should stick our unique, wonderful, quirky true selves on ice as we wait for that love to appear. –JLB

This that is tormented and very tired,
tortured with restraints like a madman,
this heart.
–Rumi, an untitled piece in Coleman Barks’s The Essential Rumi

Even though you outwit me, I’m not going back to you. Even though the purity of your love is affirmed by the unanimous quiver of every feather in the celestial host, I am not going back to the axe of your love, O triumphant husbandman and lasso king of the gateless horses, I am not going back to you, even though I squirm in your arms and surrender to your will the total essence of my dusty shell here in this captured sweat-hall, I am never coming back, I swear by the rent curtain of my virginity and the blood-thick silence between the bridgeless worlds, that I will lie to you forever, and I will be never again the cup of your need. –Leonard Cohen, “A Woman’s Decision”

Why don’t you try to do without him, why don’t you try to live alone? Do you really need his hands for your passion? Do you really need his heart for your throne? Do you need his labor for your baby? Do you need his beast for the bone? Do you need to hold a leash to be a lady? I know that you can make it, you can make it on your own. –Leonard Cohen, “Why Don’t You Try”

Only time can heal your broken heart, just as only time can heal his broken arms and legs. –Miss Piggy, Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life

Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is ...
–WB Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium”

To love someone is to isolate him from the world, wipe out every trace of him, dispossess him of his shadow, drag him into a murderous future. It is to circle around the other like a dead star and absorb him into a black light. –Jean Baudrillard, Fatal Strategies

My thoughts are crabbed and sallow,
My tears like vinegar,
Or the bitter blinking yellow
Of an acetic star.
Tonight the caustic wind, love,
Gossips late and soon,
And I wear the wry-faced pucker of
The sour lemon moon.
While like an early summer plum,
Puny, green, and tart,
Droops upon its wizened stem
My lean, unripened heart.
–Sylvia Plath, “Jilted”

Heart, I told you before and twice, and three times, don’t knock at that door. No one will answer. –Spanish folk song

Madame, people very seldom die because they lost someone. I believe they die more often because they haven’t had someone. –Colette

You don’t. It doesn’t work. One day, you wake up, and you’ve learned how to store it, and you go to another part of the heart. –Sandra Bullock, when asked how one mends a broken heart.

It is a curious sensation: the sort of pain that goes mercifully beyond our powers of feeling. When your heart is broken, your boats are burned: nothing matters any more. It is the end of happiness and the beginning of peace. –George Bernard Shaw, “Heartbreak House”

A person can never get over a broken heart if they aren’t willing to let go of all of the pieces. –(?)

Desire leaves us heartbroken; it wears us out. –Ellen Pompeo, in Grey’s Anatomy

A woman is only destined to have her heart broken if she hands it over to someone too weak, too careless, or too distracted to hang on to it. –read in a Cosmo advice column

The worst thing: to give yourself away in exchange for not enough love. –Joyce Carol Oates, “Death Mother”

... a final comfort that is small, but not cold: The heart is the only broken instrument that works. –TE Kalem

A heart can be broken, but it will keep beating just the same. –Jessica Tandy, in Fried Green Tomatoes

I wrote my friend and told her that I now realized even the most damaged person could create beauty. She wrote back that there is a Rabbinical saying that the only truly open heart is a broken heart. –from one of my listservs

I guess when your heart gets broken, you sort of start to see the cracks in everything. –Janeane Garafalo, in Felicity

If I had had a pistol I would have shot him—either that or fallen at his feet. There is no middle way when one loves. –Lady Troubridge

We desire the way a twice-poisoned dog eyes a third piece of meat. –Philip Milito

I know lots of people who have stayed in dead-end relationships, and that’s where they still are. I don’t know anyone who left a dead-end relationship who then spent the rest of her (or his) life alone, if the leaving was done with a truthful intent to self-examine, grow up a little, and be genuinely open to something real and better. –Joan, in the comments section of the October 21, 2010, Dear Sugar column

The heart ruptures, its toxins leach
into the groundwater of blood and neurons.
The muteness of cells is suddenly disrupted;
now they won’t stop chattering, replicating,
and I in my sweaty bed, watching the spider cracks
hover against the ceiling, ignore those cells
as they spin and spin.
Doctors become translators,
tapping a Morse code on my skin, trying to decipher
the language bumping through vessels and bones.
Oh, heartbreak—such a fickle thing.
Heartbreak is a squatter crouched in my kitchen,
its eyes a glittery spark, finger over its mouth,
hushing me,
–JLB, untitled poem

At least you know you’re still alive—that’s the one great thing about post-breakup anger. You want him to drop dead—well, maybe suffer some agonizing disfigurement first—and you can’t stay his name without spitting it and you want to slap every happy couple you see on the street. Not very pretty, but it beats being numb and limp. –Mary D. Esselman and Elizabeth Ash Vélez, The Hell with Love: Poems to Mend a Broken Heart

Life will break your heart, but you have the ability to mend it. You have the ability to live deliberately and joyfully. –ditto

You’ve lost the person you love, and with that your sense of purpose and beauty and joy. So lie there and feel your loss—and in doing so, become part of the cycle, too: afternoon to evening to morning again. Maybe tomorrow you’ll focus more on the sunlight than the horseshit. –ditto

The relationship went bad for all sorts of reasons, not because you’re a screwup. Take responsibility for your part, and then let it go. You were many wonderful things to many people before you met him—don’t let this one event define who you are. –ditto

We really hate this fragile stage, when you’re like a broken window that’s been taped back together, poised to crash back to the floor as soon as the wind blows. You convince yourself you’re good as new when in fact you’re still a mass of shards. It’s so horribly pathetic and yet so brave at the same time. –ditto

... we think it takes a heroic amount of hope, because it means accepting that you’re going to live alone and like it. There’s no Tom Cruise/Jerry Maguire around to complete you, no Prince Charming to help you plant those beanrows happily ever after. It’s tough to pretend you don’t feel the stigma of being single in a society that seems to celebrate coupledom. All around you the “marrieds” have their family-full lives and constant companionship, their fabulous wedding present dishes and gadgets—and there you are, in full Ally McBeal-ish spinster splendor. How are you, post-breakup, all by yourself, without double incomes or SUV-sized baby strollers, or even just an automatic date for weddings, supposed to find any peace or joy in your small cabin all alone? –ditto

It sounds harsh perhaps, letting go so completely of those in the past, but it’s not as if we pretend the relationship never happened. You learned and changed and grew in your old relationship—those experiences will always be with you, shaping who you will become. –Mary D. Esselman and Elizabeth Ash Vélez, Love Poems for Real Life


I long for You so much
I follow barefoot Your frozen tracks

That are high in the mountains
That I know are years old.

I long for You so much
I have even begun to travel
Where I have never been before.
–Hafiz, “I Follow Barefoot”

If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression
of something beautiful, but annihilating.
Both of you are great light borrowers.
Her O-mouth grieves at the world; yours is unaffected,

And your first gift is making stone out of
I wake to a mausoleum; you are here,
ticking your fingers on the marble table, looking
for cigarettes,
spiteful as a woman, but not so nervous,
and dying to say something unanswerable.

The moon, too, abases her subjects,
but in the daytime she is ridiculous.
Your dissatisfactions, on the other hand,
arrive through the mailslot with loving regularity,
white and blank, expansive as carbon monoxide.

No day is safe from news of you,
walking about in Africa maybe, but thinking of me.
–Sylvia Plath, “The Rival”


I turn you out of doors
tenant desire

you pay no rent
I turn you out of doors
all my best rooms are yours
the brain and heart

I turn you out of doors

switch off the lights
throw water on the fire
I turn you out of doors

stubborn desire.
–Alain Chartier, “Towards Silence (extract)”


In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hand
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.
–Stephen Crane, “The Heart”


The end of love should be a big event.
It should involve the hiring of a hall.
Why the hell not? It happens to us all.
Why should it pass without acknowledgment?

Suits should be dry-cleaned, invitations sent.
Whatever form it takes—a tiff, a brawl—
The end of love should be a big event.
It should involve the hiring of a hall.

Better than the unquestioning descent
Into the trap of silence, than the crawl
From visible to hidden, door to wall.

Get the announcement made, the money spent.
The end of love should be a big event.
It should involve the hiring of a hall.
–Sophie Hannah, “The End of Love”


The end was quick and bitter.
Slow and sweet was the time between us,
slow and sweet were the nights
when my hands did not touch one another
in despair
but with the love of your body
which came between them.

And when I entered into you
it seemed then that great happiness
could be measured with the precision
of sharp pain. Quick and bitter.

Slow and sweet were the nights.
Now is as bitter and grinding as sand—
“Let’s be sensible” and similar curses.
And as we stray further from love
we multiply the words,
words and sentences long and orderly.
Had we remained together
we could have become a silence.
–Yehuda Amichai, “Quick and Bitter”


Did you love well what very soon you left?
Come home and take me in your arms and take
away this stomach ache, headache, heartache.
Never so full, I never was bereft
so utterly. The winter evenings drift
dark to the window. Not one work will make
you, where you are, turn in your day, or wake
from your night toward me. The only gift
I got to keep or give is what I’ve cried,
floodgates let down to mourning for the dead
chances, for the end of being young,
for everyone I loved who really died.
I drank our one year out in brine instead
of honey from the seasons of your tongue.
–Marilyn Hacker, “Coda”


I carry a dead relationship around everywhere with me.
It’s my hobby.
How lucky to have a job that’s also my hobby,
To do it all the time.

A few people notice, and ask if they can help carry this thing.
But, like an alcoholic scared they will hear the clink of glass in
the bag,
I refuse—scared they’ll smell rottenness,

Scared of something under their touch
That will cave in, a skin over brown foam on a bad apple.

I cram this thing over the threshold
Into the cold and speechless house,
Lean against the front door for a moment to breathe in the dark,
Then start the slow haul to the kitchen.
Steel knives catch the moonlight on white tiles.

This dead relationship.

Or not yet dead.

Or dead and half-eaten,
One eye and one flank open, like a sheep under a hedge.

Or dead but still farting like the bodies in the trenches,
Exploding with their own gas. Hair and nails still growing.

It has the pins and needles of returning feeling in a deadness.
It is a reptile in my hand, quick and small and cool;
The flip of life in a dry, cold bag of loose skin.
A pressure without warmth of small claws and horn moving on
my palm.

At night it slips slow but purposeful across the floor towards the bed.
Next thing it’s looking out of my eyes in the morning—
And in the mirror, though my eyes are not my own,
My mouth shows surprise that I am still there at all.

Oh, a sickness that can make you so ill,
Yet doesn’t have the decency to kill you.
A mad free-fall that never hits the ground,
Never knows even the relief of sudden shock;
Just endless medium-rare shock, half-firm, half-bloody all the time.
A long, slow learning curve.
The overheating that can strip an engine badly,
Strain it far worse than a racing rally.
The fear that you will slow to a stop
Then start a soft, thick, slow-gathering roll backwards.

I want something that is familiar but not.
To feel in someone else’s pocket for a key
While they lean away, laughing, their arms up,
Hands in the air covered in grease or dough or paint or clay.

I have to carry it around.
A weeping mother brings a baby to hospital,
Late-night emergency.
The tired doctor smooths the hand-made lace back from its face.
He sees it was stillborn weeks ago, has been dead for weeks.
He looks at her, there is no air in the room …

This dead relationship. This dead and sinking ship.
Bulbs lie, unplanted, on a plate of dust.
Dry and puckered pouches, only slightly mouldy;
Embalmed little stomachs but with hairy, twisted fingers,
Waiting for something to happen without needing to know what it is.
When it happens everything else in the universe can start.

This dead relationship.

I am this thing’s twin.
One of us is dead
And we don’t know which, we are so close.
–Katherine Pierpoint, “This Dead Relationship”


One thing I truly knew—knew it in the pit of my stomach, in the center of my bones, knew it from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, knew it deep in my empty chest—was how love gave someone the power to break you. –Stephenie Meyer, New Moon

... how many ways can one heart be mangled and still be expected to keep beating? –ditto

It was a crippling thing, this sensation that a huge hole had been punched through my chest, excising my most vital organs and leaving ragged, unhealed gashes around the edges that continued to throb and bleed despite the passage of time. Rationally, I knew my lungs must still be intact, yet I gasped for air and my head spun like my efforts yielded me nothing. My heart must have been beating, too, but I couldn’t hear the sound of my pulse in my ears; my hands felt blue with cold. I curled inward, hugging my ribs to hold myself together. I scrambled for my numbness, my denial, but it evaded me.
       And yet, I found I could survive. I was alert, I felt the pain—the aching loss that radiated out from my chest, sending wracking waves of hurt though my limbs and head—but it was manageable. I could live through it. It didn’t feel like the pain had weakened over time, rather that I’d grown strong enough to bear it. –ditto

I wondered how long this could last. Maybe someday, years from now—if the pain would just decrease to the point where I could bear it—I would be able to look back on those few short months that would always be the best in my life. And, if it were possible that the pain would ever soften enough to allow me to do that, I was sure that I would feel grateful for as much time as he’d given me. More than I’d asked for, more than I’d deserved. Maybe someday I’d be able to see it that way.
       But what if this hole never got any better? If the raw edges never healed? If the damage was permanent and irreversible? –ditto

I was like a lost moon—my planet destroyed in some cataclysmic, disaster-movie scenario of desolation—that continued, nevertheless, to circle in a tight little orbit around the empty space left behind, ignoring the laws of gravity. –ditto

Only three things are infinite: the sky in its stars, the sea in its drops of water, and the heart in its tears. –Gustave Flaubert, to Louise Colet

I try to date, but I take it so seriously. I am bad at having a casual relationship, so I kind of don’t. –Will Estes

Have you ever been in love? Stay well clear. It leaves you very bitter and very twisted. –Tamzin Outhwaite, in EastEnders

For this my mother wrapped me warm,
And called me home against the storm,
And coaxed my infant nights to quiet,
And gave me roughage in my diet,
And tucked me in my bed at eight,
And clipped my hair, and marked my weight,
And watched me as I sat and stood:
That I might grow to womanhood
To hear a whistle and drop my wits
And break my heart to clattering bits.
–Dorothy Parker, “Fulfullment”

What is the difference between love and obsession? Didn’t both make you stay up all night, wandering the streets, a victim of your own imagination, your own heartbeat? Didn’t you fall into both, headfirst into quicksand? Wasn’t every man in love a fool and every woman a slave?
       Love was like rain: it turned into ice, or it disappeared. Now you saw it, now you couldn’t find it no matter how hard you might search. Love evaporated; obsession was realer; it hurt, like a pin in your bottom, a stone in your shoe. It didn’t go away in the blink of an eye. A morning phone call filled with regret. A letter that said, Dear you, good-bye from me. Obsession tasted like something familiar. Something you’d known your whole life. It settled and lurked; it stayed with you. –Alice Hoffman, The Ice Queen

You want to know what love is? It’s the thing that ruins you. –ditto

I went down to the port with my wife. On the way down I accused her of continuing her relentless automatic assault on the center of my being. I knew this was not wise. I only meant to rap her on the knuckles and direct her attention to her habitual drift toward bitchiness but I lost control. There is no control in these realms. I became a thug. I attacked her spirit. Her spirit armed itself and retaliated massively. I think we were talking about valises or which of us traveled the lightest. A truce was investigated briefly by shabby deputies neither of which had the authority to begin the initiative. You always carry something extra, a shopping bag, something of string and paper that can’t be checked. I’m glad you didn’t pack for me. You always slow me down. I can’t be an acrobat when you’re around. You’re sandpaper. I can’t be a dancer. I’m dead when you’re around. You kill. It is your nature. Observe your nature. The shoemaker looked up at us as we passed his open doorway. This humiliation made me furious. I shoved a razor blade into her nerves. Her eyes changed color. This was done by saying Jesus Christ, quickening my step slightly, minutely moving my jaw, rejecting the essence of her totally and forever. If she went down quickly I would nurse her back to love in time to get her blessings before the boat came in. But why should I, she didn’t rub my back when I threw my shoulder out, even when I asked her three times. And why should she since I had defeated her smile over and over. And why should I since she was the enemy of my freedom and the smiling moon over my gradual death. And why should she since I hated her because her beauty died. … We were on the port, in plain sunlight between the masts and the shops. The shit piled up in the One Heart which is the engine of our energy. We are married: there is only one heart. On common ground the armored spirits tried to embrace but they both fell down paralyzed. Pain removed the world. They felt for the organs of sex but they were gone. There was no war, no peace, no world, the punishment of marriage spoiled. There is no Armageddon here. And fuck you. And fuck you. The horn, the boat was coming. I would have to travel without her blessing in the collapsed world. I won’t accuse you of ruining my trip. I won’t accuse you of ruining your absence. The Kamelia came in, its white decks above us, or was it the Portokalios Ilios. I know the name of a boat or two. I always hide her beauty from myself until it is too late to praise her for it. Ropes were flying, uniforms flashing, everywhere haste advised and the threat of lost time. I stared at her as she became beautiful and calm. I would not get the blessing. The journey had an unclean start. And she must carry stillborn blessings up the hill. –Leonard Cohen, “The Unclean Start”

It is true. I’ve tried to ignore it, okay, I tried to pretend like it wasn’t happening, but it is. It is true—you two are meant to be together, okay. You’ve loved each other since you were kids; you always have, you always will. You only proposed to me because Carrie wasn’t available. What if she was? What if one day she is? ... So then you’d be stuck married to a woman you don’t love instead of your soulmate? I’m not gonna do that to you. I can’t, and don’t say it’s because I’m being selfless, ’cause I’m not; I’m doing this for myself, too. I stand too much to lose by marrying you—my dignity. Yeah, Austin, what would it say about me if I was willing to marry someone who I know is in love with someone else? It would say that I don’t think that I deserve to have the real thing. And that’s not good enough for me—not anymore. I can’t settle for marrying someone who thinks of me as a second choice. Someone who’s on the rebound. Someone who, I’m always wondering if they’re thinking about another woman when they’re making love to me. If every time you close your eyes, you’re fantasizing about my sister. I just don’t think I deserve that. I’m a smart, strong, attractive woman, Austin, and I deserve to be with a man who thinks of me as his first choice. I wanna be with a man who loves me as much as I love him. A man who only wants me. And if I can’t have that, I would rather be single. I would rather spend the rest of my life alone. And I’ll be happier. Because I’ll know that I didn’t settle for less than I deserve. –Alison Sweeney, in Days of Our Lives

Still, there must have been something at the beginning, that perfectly normal unknowable raw human thing that’s beautiful before everything turns to shit. –(?), from an article on Madalyn Murray O’Hare

We’re not in love—we’re just trying to wash away the dirt. –Letitia Dean, in EastEnders

How can I give up what I have never even had, for a girl, who delicious and provocative as once she may have been, will inevitably grow as familiar as a loaf of bread? For Love? What love? Is that what binds all these couples we know together—the ones who even bother to let themselves be bound? Isn’t it something more like weakness? Isn’t it rather convenience and apathy and guilt? Isn’t it rather fear and exhaustion and inertia, gutlessness plain and simple, far far more than that “love” that the marriage counselors and the songwriters and the psychotherapists are forever dreaming about? Please, let us not bullshit one another about “love” and its duration. –Philip Roth, Portnoy’s Complaint

... somehow I couldn’t stop. I had turned into someone that I would have pitied in another life; someone who searched for signs, who analyzed patterns, who went over every word in a conversation looking for hidden meanings, secret signals, the subtext that said, Yes, I still love you, of course I still love you. –Jennifer Weiner, Good in Bed

I stood back and let the ocean cool my feet and felt...nothing. Or maybe it was the end of love that I was feeling, the cool empty place that’s left inside you where all that heat and pain and passion used to be, the slick of wet sand after the tide finally rolls back out. –ditto

Love is the rug they pull out from under you. Love is Lucy always lifting the football at the last second so that Charlie Brown falls on his ass. Love is something that every time you believe in it, it goes away. Love is for suckers, and I’m not going to be a sucker ever again. –ditto

Love was more than blind. It was deaf and dumb, too. It was catatonic. It was vegetative. –Francine Pascal, Fearless

Maybe there’s a god above
but the only thing I learned from love
was how to shoot at somebody who outdrew you.
–Leonard Cohen, “Hallelujah”

Sometimes I wish I were a little kid again; skinned knees are easier to fix than broken hearts. –(?)

God is closest to those with broken hearts. –Jewish saying

Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it’s better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together. –(?)

It’s not love’s going hurts my days
But that it went in little ways.
–Edna St. Vincent Millay, “The Spring and the Fall”

I think only stupid people have good relationships. –Thora Birch, in Ghost World

Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra. Suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night the ice weasels come. –Matt Groening, Love is Hell

Love is a perky elf dancing a merry little jig and then suddenly he turns on you with a miniature machine gun. –ditto

Letting go, it’s so hard
The way it’s hurting now
To get this love untied
So tough to stay with this thing
’cos if I follow through
I face what I denied
I’ll get those hooks out of me
And I’ll take out the hooks that I sunk deep in your side
Kill that fear of emptiness, that loneliness I hide.
–Peter Gabriel, “Washing of the Water”

Divided, I dream of you today—
I even embrace the pain.
–Yuan Chen, “Remembering”

Kill all the men you have slept with.
Put the bones in a box and send it into the sea with flowers.
–Yoko Ono, “Closet Piece III”

... and my love stays bitterly glowing,
spasms of it will not sleep,
and I am helpless and thirsty and need shade
but there is no one to cover me—
not even God.
–Anne Sexton, “Divorce”

It must happen to everyone. The last time you make love, you can’t know it will be the last. –Joyce Carol Oates, “Summer Sweat”

Our most fervent wish is for a former lover’s defeat, deprived of our love; at the very least, we wish to appear transcendent, indifferent, wholly free of that lost love. –ditto

Why is it that we can’t always recognize the moment that love begins, but we always know when it ends? –Steve Martin, in LA Story


Now that I have met you, Sir,
and my nerves are raw-
skinned fish,
I am begging you to fuck off, please.
I am my own sphere,
my own little planet covered in its delicate
You are all sharp edges and hooks.
How many blasts would it take to scour this residue
of hunger from me? I would rather be reduced
to bones than to continue wanting you like this.
Oh yes,
the heart is only a muscle, the brain
only tissue, synapses. Desire?
It is viscous and wet.
No amount of pressure will stem the flow
sliding through my driest cracks, nor
stop my blood from thumping hot and quick
when you sizzle so carelessly through my orbit.
Like a hurricane, you hijack my weather patterns:
making me damp when all is parched,
making me wind-furious when all is still.
This is not a catastrophe, this little drama
that plays itself in continuous reruns, this
embarrassing farce that no one ever sees.

Enough of your mystery and magic—
I am through.
–JLB, untitled poem


Love: an open grave,
a suicide in waiting,
the blue taste of dusk.

This heart, a trapped and
wounded bird, gnaws off its leg
in twitching panic.

Fleeting, frail, formless:
love is nothing more than breath
in late December.

Hearts don’t break like glass;
they vibrate in the throat:
thrumming filament.

Gravel, glass, sorrow;
a tincture of loss
binds his memory to mine.

In hindsight, starvation
is the closest approximation
to love.

A spark in August
is the way this loss begins:
hot and uncontrolled.


handprint on a pillow
ripples in water
the fleeting movement
of dusk
breath on lips
red marks on skin

his memory more transitory
than light in January
–JLB, “Gone”


Nothing hurts worse than when the one you love doesn’t choose you. –from Grand Canyon

I am tired, Beloved,
of chafing my heart against
the want of you ...
–Amy Lowell, “The Letter”

Huge events take place on this earth every day. Earthquakes, hurricanes, even glaciers move. So why couldn’t he just look at me? –Claire Danes, in My So-Called Life

Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love. –Charlie Brown

Love. Let me tell you about love. Either you love more or you love less, and the one who loves more ends up fucked. –Goldberry Long, Juniper Tree Burning

The hardest thing in the world is to reveal a hidden love. –Ho Shuang-Ch’ing


He burns me
like the Great Fire digesting London,
houses sliding into one another,
ash wafting toward the river;
like witches writhing on the stake,
looking eastward, their eyes searching
the caterwauling ocean.

if he only knew
if he only knew
if he only knew
–JLB, untitled poem


Unspoken love is like a poison. If you don’t spit it out, it will eat you up inside. –(?)

Love hurts when you break up with someone. It hurts even more when someone breaks up with you but it hurts the most when the person you love has no idea about how you feel. –(?)

Why hide your feelings to the one you love? Why love the one who loves another? Why give everything if only pain comes in return? Why wait if there’s nothing to wait for? I guess the answer is love. –(?)

Ask me why I keep on loving you when it’s clear that you don’t feel the same way for me ... the problem is that as much as I can’t force you to love me, I can’t force myself to stop loving you. –(?)

Maybe I don’t know what love is, but it isn’t this. –Tara MacLean, “Blinded”

Use me, [and] I’ll set you on fire, you bastard. –Roseanne Barr, in Roseanne, commenting on a song lyric in which the man says he’ll use his girlfriend and then set her free

Heaven hath no rage, like love to hatred turned, nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorned. –William Congreve, “The Mourning Bride”

Love is a game—yes?
I think it is a drowning.
–Amy Lowell, “Twenty-four Hokku on a Modern Theme”

And then she realized that his presence was the wall, his presence was destroying her. Unless she could break out, she must die most fearfully, walled up in horror. And he was the wall. She must break down the wall. She must break him down before her, the awful obstruction of him who obstructed her life to the last. It must be done, or she must perish most horribly. –DH Lawrence, Women in Love

She thought that this man was her savior, that he had come to her at a time in her life when her life demanded completion, an end, a permanent fixing of all that was troubled and shifting and deadly. And yet it was absurd to think this. No person could save another. So she drew back from him and released him. –Joyce Carol Oates, “The Lady with the Pet Dog”

Lovers. Not a soft word, as people thought, but cruel and tearing. –Alice Munro, “Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You”

Love was like a steamroller. There was no avoiding it; it went over you and you came out flat. –Margaret Atwood, “The Age of Lead”

Love is the pursuit of shadows ... –Margaret Atwood, Lady Oracle

True love is usually the result of self-delusion and substance abuse. –(?)

Love is the worst of lies one can tell oneself. –Lydie-Anne, in Lilies

Every little girl knows about love. It is only her capacity to suffer because of it that increases. –Françoise Sagan

Love: a grave mental disease. –Plato

Love is a hole in the heart. –Ben Hecht

Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but Love. –William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.
–TS Eliot, Four Quartets, “Little Gidding”

Relationships are like a dance, with visible energy racing back and forth between the partners. Some relationships are the slow, dark dance of death. –Colette Dowling

Romantic love is mental illness. But it’s a pleasurable one. It’s a drug. It distorts reality, and that’s the point of it. It would be impossible to fall in love with someone that you really saw. The second you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with you deliberately become a moron. You do this in order to fall in love, because it would be impossible to fall in love with any human being if you actually saw them for what they are. –Fran Lebowitz

Each man kills the thing he loves. –Oscar Wilde, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”

Love is something that hangs up behind the bathroom door and smells of Lysol. –Ernest Hemingway

Love is the state in which man sees things most decidedly as they are not. –Friedrich Nietzsche

The business of love is
cruelty which,
by our wills,
we transform
to live together.

–William Carlos Williams, “The Ivy Crown”

The more you love someone,
the more you want to kill ’em.
The more you love someone
the more he make you cry.
The more you love someone
the more he make you crazy.
The more you love someone
the more you wishing him dead!

Sometime you look at
him and only see fat and lazy.
And wanting baseball bat
for hitting him on his head!
The more you love someone,
the more you want to kill ’em.
Loving and killing
fit like hand in glove!

–Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, “The More You Ruv Someone” (from Avenue Q)

Love, love, love—all the wretched cant of it, making egotism, lust, masochism, fantasy under a mythology of sentimental postures, a welter of self-induced miseries and joys, blinding and making the essential personalities in the frozen gestures of courtship, in the kissing and the dating and the desire, the compliments and the quarrels which vivify its barrenness. –Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch

To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia. –HL Mencken

Love: a burnt match skating in a urinal. –Hart Crane

When we want to read of the deeds that are done for love, whither do we turn? To the murder column. –George Bernard Shaw

Love is three minutes of squelching noises. –Johnny Rotten, in Nigel Rees’s Graffiti 3

The intellect is always fooled by the heart. –François de la Rochefoucauld, Maxims

Love blinds all men alike, both the reasonable and the foolish. –Menander, Andria

We are easily duped by those we love. –Molière, Tartuffe

Love is a kind of warfare. –Ovid, Ars amatoria

Boy Meets Girl, So What? –Bertold Brecht

To marry is to halve your rights and double your duties. –Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea

Marriage is a desperate thing. –John Selden, Marriage

All the love gone bad turned my world to black
tattooed all I see
all that I am
all I’ll ever be.
–Pearl Jam, “Black”

In our lives, we hunger for those we cannot touch. –(?)

After all, there’s a reason they say that love is a two-edged sword, rather than a two-edged Wiffle bat or a two-edged Fudgsicle, because love is sharp, it pierces ... it can also cut, cut deep, wound, kill. –Dean Koontz, Seize the Night

I just think we have a special connection. I just think...Oh God, listen to me, I’m such an idiot, such a stupid idiot, chasing after a gay man. It’s like a bad joke. But I can’t seem to stop. –Eugene Stein, Straitjacket and Tie

Ben Savage: This isn’t romance—it’s revenge!
Lee Norris: Two sides of the same hormone!
–from Boy Meets World

Sometimes closeness isn’t there
until you’re fucking someone
and then you’re lost inside yourself
but later you’ll swear you feel
his love
It was only pain.

Falling in love doesn’t kill people. Landing does. –Fang

Since you went the sun refuses to shine
The sky joins me in weeping for your absence
All our pleasure is gone with you ...
Silence reigns everywhere ...
Oh come back! Already the shepherds and their
flocks call for you!
Come back soon, or it will be winter in May.
–Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, “Where Are You”

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell. –Edna St. Vincent Millay

I cannot speculate
on what our cluttered mind will save—
sleepy Sundays,
or a nosebleed after love.
I know only the dying heart
needs the nourishment of memory
to live beyond too many winters.
–Rod McKuen, Alone

I’m not sure
why we cannot shake
the old loves
from our minds.
It must be that
we build on memory
and make them more
than what they were.
And is the manufacture
just a safe device
for closing up the wall?

I wish I had
the number and address
of all those friends
I knew and cared about
some twenty years ago ...
I’d like to write each one
and say
I’m warm, I am
for ever, always.
Someone has warmed me up
who means it
and I won’t be cold again.
I might be lying
but I’d like to say it
anyway ...

One who looks for love where there is none to be found is a fool the whole year round. –anonymous

Rejection is the greatest aphrodisiac. –Madonna

It’s the ones who resist that we most want to kiss, wouldn’t you say? –George Michael, “Cowboys and Angels”

The more you ignore me, the closer I get. –Morrissey, “The More You Ignore Me”

If only the strength of the love that people feel when it is reciprocated could be as intense and obsessive as the love we feel when it is not; then marriages would be truly made in heaven. –Ben Elton, Stark

Then I’m just me,
righteously angry
for something you cannot, do not, will not see.
by your confusion
at the changes that rage through me.
–Lennie St. Luce, “Separated”

two magnets, swinging, circling, repulsing, attracting,
wanting, needing, hurting
by your vision
you unchanging, trying to move toward me
through the storm of my ever-changing emotions
to leave me
to loathe me
to ignore me
I will deal
But what do I do with this love?

I thought
how nice it would be to be here with you
and then I thought
how much better it is to be here
with someone who wants to be with me.
–Lennie St. Luce, “Not You Again”

Once upon a time I was falling in love; now I’m only falling apart. –Bonnie Tyler, “Total Eclipse of the Heart”

Some say love, it is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed. –Bette Midler, “The Rose”

You’re going to leave me, aren’t you? ... you’ve had enough of me, haven’t you? You’re probably so tired of all this crying and all these moods, and I’ve got to tell you, so am I. So am I. Sometimes it seems like my mind has a mind of its own, like I just get hysterical, like it’s something I can’t control at all. And I don’t know what to do, and I feel so sorry for you because you don’t know what to do either. And I’m sure you’re going to leave me now. –Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation