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Craft a Valentine’s Day poem for your beloved

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and it’s a perfect occasion to craft a love letter or poem for your beloved. Ted Kooser, U.S. poet laureate from 2004 to 2006, began a tradition in 1986 of sending a Valentine’s Day poem on a postcard to 50 women (with his wife’s understanding).

When he stopped in 2007, he was mailing postcards to 2,600 women, including actress Debra Winger and author Louise Erdrich. He closed with a final poem dedicated to his wife Kathleen.

His book Valentinesfeatures all the poems. Here’s the first one he wrote:

Pocket Poem by Ted Kooser
If this comes creased and creased again and soiled
as if I’d opened it a thousand times
to see if what I’d written here was right,
it’s all because I looked too long for you
to put in your pocket. Midnight says
the little gifts of loneliness come wrapped
by nervous fingers. What I wanted this
to say was that I want to be so close
that when you find it, it is warm from me.

As poet laureate, Kooser began American Life in Poetry to “enhance the presence of poetry.” Amrican Life in Poetry features various poets’ work in a free weekly column for newspapers to publish. You can subscribe to receive a free e-mail each Monday with the week’s poem. To sign up and see an archive of previous poems, go to

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