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Paper boats

Paper boats

At the Co-op, all the valentine cards
have been squashed on their cardboard stand between
the cans of cider and the bleach; a few yards
from the till, bunnies hold roses, cheap birds gleam.

Outside, the sky is full of winter sun,
and I think about the unlikely trick of love
while clouds push pinkish, unnoticed, become
one thing and then the next, suspended far above,

scrawling pictures over my head. I want to take
each red envelope, fold it into a little boat,
one each, for anyone who has escaped
a sad marriage, or taken a second chance, float

each ship, like a lopsided heart, so gently, 
sail the frail yearning we all must carry.

Olga Dermott-Bond


Valentine’s weekend in Paris Rushall

Instead of writing his theology essay,
Eddie made a sign for the M6.

Roadside hopefuls, we stuck out
our thumbs, flayed by fumes and grit,

sprayed with petrol rain. St Andrews,
Cupar, Glenrothes, Glasgow
; we inched

our way to his mum’s house, kissed
in the shallow harbour of every layby

until a little lopsided van parted water
on the hard shoulder, an unlikely Moses

who rattled and chattered and juddered
at fifty miles an hour, all the way to Walsall.

It was first love, first time eating Balti 
from a silver bowl, its hammered heart singing

with coriander, listening to him playing
jazz on his old piano, lying in the spare bed

waiting for him to gather me close, closer,
hitchhiking to the moon and farthest stars.

Olga Dermott-Bond



Valentine’s Day 2021

I’ll try to be your flint, if you think you need a spark,
I’ll even try to be your ‘two by two’ as we’re boarding Noah’s Ark,
If you have a castle in the air, then I’ll try to help you see it,
But with the kind of year that we’ve been having ...
I’m afraid I just can’t guarantee it.

Because, this is not just any old Valentine’s Day,
And this is most definitely not a Marks and Spencer Valentine’s Day,
(Other posh food retail outlets are available),
No ... this is, hopefully, a once in a lifetime Valentine’s Day,
Never to be repeated,
So if you’re feeling a bit deflated and defeated,
I’ll try to be your “pick me up” ... your Tiramisu,
Your “not that great, but making do”,
Your “I don’t think it’s Covid, it’s more like the flu,
But let’s hug anyway, because, wild thing ... I think I love you.”
It’s true.
I may not be your first choice at the front of the queue,
Though, like an intrepid Brummie once said ... “I’ll give it a goo”.

Last year was a tragic and worrying one for so many folks,
It seemed like our collective futures were going up in smoke.
But our hopes and dreams are still in range,
We could do with a few ch ... ch ... ch ... ch ... changes
As we turn and face the strange,
Everything will be hunky dory once again,
Well ... as hunky dory as it was before-y,
Let’s hope it doesn’t drag on like some kind of shaggy dog story.

Anyway ... back to this lockdown Valentine’s Day.
Celebrate it, if you wish, in any and every way you may,
Have a take away or cook, have a ‘play’ or read a book
And be sure you’re more than ready before you ask,
Because if you’re going to lean in for a Valentine’s kiss ...
You’ll need to remove your mask.

Spoz (Giovanni Esposito)





Olga Dermott-Bond

About this poem

Poetry on Loan and Birnnigham Libraries commissioned two West Midlands poets, Olga Dermott-Bond and Spoz (Giovanni Esposito), to write and video poems for Valentine's Day 2021.

The resulting poems are a real delight, and completely different from each other. We think they are worth sharing more widely, so here they are.

You can see Olga and Spoz reading their poems here.