'Love Poems For Married People' Will Help Spice Things Up In The— ZzzzHoney? You awake? The soft glow of a smartphone screen, the caress of sweatpants, a new collection of poems by John Kenney celebrates what happens to romance after years (and years) of marriage.
There's no shortage of romantic verse for people who have just fallen in love. But no one waxes poetic about the soft glow of a smartphone screen, or the sweet caress of sweatpants.
So John Kenney, a "longtime married person," has filled this void with a slim volume called Love Poems (for Married People), in which he celebrates what happens to romance after years (and years, and years) of partnership.
One poem asks: "Are you in the mood?"
I am. Let's put the kids down. Have a light dinner. Shower. Maybe not drink so much. And do that thing I would rather do with you than with anyone else. Lie in bed and look at our iPhones.
The book started a few years ago as a rather hastily written humor column in The New Yorker and "it got a pretty good response," Kenney says. Every year on Valentine's Day, it resurfaces.
"Whoever you are ... newly married, longtime married, whatever kind of relationship you're in, I think there are some universal truths about life together," Kenney says.
Take, for example, "Bedtime":
We are in the bedroom in our underpants. Let's turn the lights down. No, further. "Off," I guess, is the technical term. Maybe try a towel under the door, where that sliver of light is coming in? What if we just cuddle, and by cuddle I mean not actually touching— Each of us at the far edge of our own side of the bed— Then close our eyes for the next seven hours or so? I like you.
That last, passionate line, "I like you," is actually a direct quote from Kenney's wife, Lissa. "Last Valentine's Day it was the signature on the card she gave me," he explains.
Kenney wrote the book over the course of about six weeks and says his wife played a crucial role in the editing process. "[I] would stand by like a small dog and wait for her to laugh," Kenney says. "Oftentimes that did not happen, so we nixed those poems."
For the record, Lissa did not approve of the use of the word "underpants."
"When the piece was first published in The New Yorker, a very sincere person came over and said to my wife: 'I'm so sorry that John wrote about your underpants,' ..." Kenney recalls. "She smiled and said, 'It's OK, we're in discussions to live in separate houses.' "
Kenney found it helpful to solicit poem ideas from friends and colleagues. "The closer you can get to the truth in these things, I think, the better they are," he says.
The last poem in the book is called "To Lissa. No kidding."
"It was one of the last poems I wrote, and I hesitated about whether to include it," Kenney says. "My wife and I have been together for, I don't know, 14 years, I think? (Although as she says: It feels like 20)."
They've been through tough times, they have two kids, and Kenney thought at the very least he could include a funny poem in the book for her.