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Passionate Hearts: The Poetry of Sexual Love
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Passionate Hearts: The Poetry of Sexual Love

by Wendy Maltz (Editor), Molly Peacock (Preface by), Barry McCarthy (Foreword by)

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Compiled by renowned sex therapist and author Wendy Maltz, Passionate Hearts is a remarkable anthology of intimate, emotionally explicit, yet accessible poetry, representing new voices as well as the most revered contemporary poets. Culled from classic works of poetry, unpublished work solicited especially for the book, and poetry and erotica journals, these


Compiled by renowned sex therapist and author Wendy Maltz, Passionate Hearts is a remarkable anthology of intimate, emotionally explicit, yet accessible poetry, representing new voices as well as the most revered contemporary poets. Culled from classic works of poetry, unpublished work solicited especially for the book, and poetry and erotica journals, these poems celebrate sexual connection and expression. Contributors include Sharon Olds, Gary Soto, E. E. cummings, Marge Piercy, Raymond Carver, Galway Kinnell, Pablo Neruda, and Tess Gallagher.

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New World Library
Publication date:
Edition description:
Second Edition
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Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 7.24(h) x 0.61(d)

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Passionate Hearts

The Poetry of Sexual Love

By Wendy Maltz

New World Library

Copyright © 1996 Wendy Maltz
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57731-567-4


tender awakening


    When I was twenty I walked past
    The lady I would marry —
    Cross-legged on the porch.
    She was cracking walnuts
    With a hammer, a jar
    At her side. I had come
    From the store, swinging
    A carton of cold beers,
    And when I looked she smiled.
    And that was all, until
    I came back, flushed,
    Glowing like a lantern
    Against a backdrop
    Of silly one-liners —
    Cute-face, peaches, baby-lips.

    We talked rain, cats,
    About rain on cats,
    And later went inside
    For a sandwich, a glass
    Of milk, sweets.
    Still later, a month later,
    We were going at one
    Another on the couch, bed,
    In the bathtub
    And its backwash of bubbles,
    Snapping. So it went,
    And how strangely: the walnut
    Tree had dropped its hard
    Fruit, and they, in turn,
    Were dropped into a paper
    Bag, a jar, then into
    The dough that was twisted
    Into bread for the love
    Of my mouth, so
    It might keep talking.

    gary soto


    a moon starting up
    over a warm summer meadow:
    myriads of fireflies, quietly moving &
    flickering their own type of light
    to each other
    are moving to the slowly increasing magic
    of their closeness
    with this first warm night.

    in the dusk light
    of your kitchen
    quietly talking over a table,
    and moving closer to each other
    with words,
    & then to the first time of
    touching hands.
    the motion of our hands while talking,
    starting up a beginning
    place of sharing:
    a first motion of touching
    with a magic possibility
    of keeping the closeness
    of this night,

    alan yount


    I stood in the doorway
    for the longest time
    after you left
    looking at the night
    listening to the night
    feeling the cold
    against the warmth of my body
    feeling your touch
    ripening on my body

    It would have been too easy
    to welcome you inside me
    succumb to the rhythm
    of waves washing over me

    As much as that would be
    it wouldn't be enough

    I would never know
    was on the other side
    of your skin

    johanna rayl


    All the bright day I rode my bike along the river
    gold flashing among the dizzy leaves
    water clear and rushing over stones
    the sound drawing me on.

    All day I rode with the wind in my face
    till I lost a shoe when I drank at the river
    and turned to go home.

    It was dusk when I entered the old
    house on the hill
    and you were glad to see me.

    You showed me strings you had tied to a stick.
    I watched you dip strings in hot tallow
    again and again
    while the long tapered bodies grew thick.

    Then you lit two of your candles
    and there in the flickering shadows we stood
    between floors on a landing.
    You reached to embrace me as I turned toward you

    and gently your lips brushed on my lips
    and gently your tongue entered my mouth

    finding the way through the dark.

    I stood open — river swelling inside me —
    rising and falling —
    walls breathing for me —

    the sound of the river rushed in my ears
    my legs were water (I might have fallen
    if your arms had not held me).

    you turned with a smile as though it were natural
    and walked down the stairs
    leaving me filled
    with that long trembling.

    When I could speak I said, Let's walk by the river.
    Then I asked, Will you be loving?
    and laughed at my words.
    I meant to say, "Will you be leaving?"
    and then you laughed too.

    A slip of the tongue, you said.
    Yes, I said, a slip of the tongue.

    patti tana


    Purple is the color of the longing
    tucked into the folds of pulpy organs
    soft and vulnerable.
    A finger could pierce like a bullet
    this swollen pulse,
    an uncaring touch would tear to pieces
    the soft fiber of its nest.

    Defenseless it hides
    in the soft warm dark
    safe and alone
    and dreams silently
    of the most gentle hands,
    hands that part the flesh with trembling care
    inching open the egg,
    hands that breathe, warm and moist
    attentive to the quietest heartbeats,
    slow, patient hands that touch
    with no shadow of demand,
    fingers that explore hinted textures
    radiating wonder and discovery,
    bridges delicate enough to join
    one time
    under the noise of aching lives
    the being of one
    with the presence of another.

    david steinberg


    You approach
    I stand erect
    anticipate extended hand
    guides me to the dance floor
    slick and satin black reflects
    sophisticated bodies glide
    forward backward heads cocked
    hip to hip we promenade
    to throbbing music swells swelling
    slow slow quick quick slow
    thighs whisper push me pull me
    surrender to the pounding beat
    accelerates my lower body
    undulates back and forth and back
    to back vibrations ripple
    skin on skin pulsating
    face to face your mouth slides
    onto into parted lips
    connect the movements quicker
    quicker now you lift me bend
    me holding hold me while
    the notes explode

    j. b. bernstein

    With you I begin
    to find my body again.
    Senses come slowly alive,
    sphincters soften,
    turtle head rises
    inch by inch
    out of shell.

    With you I remember
    the most basic pattern,
    sense the warm pulse,
    move closer
    beat by beat.

    Pray for safety,
    for open arms.
    Test twice every reaching.
    Hold open the possibility
    so often impossible.
    Reach shaking fingertips
    out into the blackness
    hoping for you to be real,
    wanting to trust the touch of you
    and afraid,
    find finally
    fingers that are not mine
    also reaching
    also afraid
    also beginning to believe

    david steinberg


    Give me your hand. Place it on my bare breast
    and take the chance of merging skin with skin.
    Your hand will hold the heat when you withdraw it,
    leaving a cold, invisible handprint,
    change for both of us. Who knows what comes next?
    Desire, like any investment, means risk,
    for decision is part of sensation
    and not the least pleasurable element.

    To choose is never a casual act,
    nor is love, nor is any handmade gift.
    I have unwrapped myself: If you hold back,
    your hand will remain empty, a high cost
    for no interest. With a single touch,
    we balance gain and loss — the feel of choice.

    martha elizabeth


    your hair
    with the palms
    of my hands
    I have fingered
    the strands
    around and around

    your ears
    with my words
    I have tickled
    with laughter

    your neck
    with my tongue
    with my teeth
    with my lips
    I have kissed

    your thighs
    with my thighs
    pressing between
    ha! I have touched

    your feet
    your scars

    you said you bleed hard
    as I traced the soft flesh

    your hands
    with my hands
    your chest
    with my chest
    and even your heart yes!
    especially your heart

    my cheek to your breast
    as it rises and falls
    my breath in your hair
    the wind in the leaves

    oh yes these
    I have touched.

    patti tana


    Taking off
    my clothes
    piece by piece,
    I turn to you,
    unwrap my body,
    feel you trace
    its contours
    with your fingers.
    I am accustomed
    to covering,
    what I now bare,
    watch you waken
    and wash me
    with your eyes.
    I feel the cloth
    of your skin,
    inviting me in,
    feel your breath
    warm in my ear.
    I lean closer
    into you, feel
    your blood surge
    as you hold me
    and I echo
    the beat pulling
    on us as I wrap
    my legs around you
    and open as morning
    glories do
    when the sun
    warms them.

    connemara wadsworth


    You came into my life
    with grace, giving me time
    to want all of you. That
    first night I couldn't say
    whether your passion or
    your gentleness moved me
    more, the way we took each
    other or how we talked
    till dawn, our brief sleep a
    ceremonial act
    in the strangeness of love.

    julia h. ackerman


    Come here, closer, and fold
    into the dent of my chest,
    the crook of my shoulder.
    In the open window the
    candle betrays the wind's
    summer breath and the
    night settles down around us.

    Don't move, not now,
    let's be still, hold this moment
    before we open our bodies,
    and tell me, one more time,
    how you came to find me.

    stephen j. lyons


passionate pleasures


    Above, it's spring, I think,
    and kisses bloom over every inch of skin,
    each curve and lobe
    our rosy lips moisten and shine.

    Your body is a new country,
    hidden landscape in cotton and chambray
    that I want to travel with every vehicle I own:
    hands, tongue, slide of silk.

    Below, in the heat
    and rush of wet, we're learning again
    how summer moves through the deep canyons,
    stirring grasses and honeying fruit.

    How I love your trembling fingers,
    given by the gentle ones
    who taught you to crave taste and touch.
    Under them, I am fully open.

    kim ly bui-burton


    we touch fingertips
    climb feet against feet
    toward Sierra peaks
    where the air leaps
    catch our breath that flies away
    with rising birds
    and then follow the crevice
    where your flesh turns
    a long line inward
    clear to the small of your back
    I move carefully
    as a snow climber
    near red mountain flowers
    while you lead with hips
    certain and gentle as a hand

    steve wiesinger


    The phoenix is rising:

    I see her wings open before me
    like a vast awning of light.
    I see her feathered petals
    begin their ceremony

    like tulips opening,
    each of their cups
    curved upon curve
    like the feathers of the great bird.

    As if tulips could fly.
    As if
    the great bird bloomed.

    I feel the curves of your fingers,
    the ten smooth petals of your hands
    as you cup me in front of you,

    your lifting chest
    curved into the curve of my backbone,
    your feathered groin
    brushing my two-pillowed rump,
    your arms, a circle.

    Your fingers circle
    like small fledglings,
    settle at the edge
    of the purple nested flower
    with its entrance of folds,

    the multi-curved
    overlapping, variegated transition ...

    Flesh risen, warm blood,
    our bodies
    and the bird suspended.

    adria klinger


Excerpted from Passionate Hearts by Wendy Maltz. Copyright © 1996 Wendy Maltz. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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