Valentine for Ernest Mann

You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, “I’ll take two”
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
“I thought they had such beautiful eyes.”
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he reinvented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of the skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we reinvent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye


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88 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dylan
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 19:02:02

    this is from the where poety hides lesson isnt it

    also when will the chat be ready?

  2. Meheak
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 19:06:55

    it reminds me of it. i think the poet is trying to say a poem does not just come to you, you have to make it.

  3. Dylan
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 19:07:50

    its very funny in the first stanza where it says, ”You canโ€™t order a poem like you order a taco. Walk up to the counter, say, โ€œIโ€™ll take twoโ€and expect it to be handed back to you on a shiny plate.”

  4. Dylan
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 19:08:39

    doesent it

  5. Meheak
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 19:50:05

    Kind of ^.^

  6. Max
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 19:55:11

    interesting poem

  7. Ms. McClure Ms. McClure
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 20:00:13

    Max, what do you see that makes you say that?

  8. Max
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 20:02:21

    because of how he gave her two skunks for valentines.

  9. Meheak
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 20:11:03

    I missed you today Ms.McClure!

  10. Sarah~
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 23:08:57

    LOL this is funny.
    *yawns* I’m tireeeeeddddd.

  11. Claire
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 16:18:18

    I think this man was talking about a stuft skunk because im pretty sure he wouldent give his wife a real skunk. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Ms. McClure Ms. McClure
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 16:28:46

    What do you see in the text that makes you say that the man could have given his wife a stuffed animal?

  13. โœฟ ฮตะผฮนโ„“ัƒ โœฟ Emily
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 19:28:35

    Why would any man give his wife a skunk or two for a valentines gift, even if the eyes on the skunks are beautiful?
    P.S. I would think that’d just be plain weird.

  14. โœฟ ฮตะผฮนโ„“ัƒ โœฟ Emily
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 19:33:22


  15. โ˜† cฮฑะผฮนโ„“โ„“ั” โ˜† Cami=)
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 18:11:12

    i think the poet is talking about how your might see things ugly but in his perceptive he likes them. For example when he says the skunk had such beautiful eyes he might mean that but not everybody else agrees.=)

  16. Meheak
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 18:40:27

    i think the poet is saying that you can’t find a poem randomly you have to search because poems hide. They can be right under your nose and you wouldn’t even realize it! I say this because of the first stanza
    “You canโ€™t order a poem like you order a taco.
    Walk up to the counter, say, โ€œIโ€™ll take twoโ€
    and expect it to be handed back to you
    on a shiny plate.”

    and when he says this in the second stanza
    “Let me tell you a secret:
    Poems hide

  17. Ashleigh V
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 17:14:18

    I think this is like where poetry hides it’s explaining that poetry can be anywhere..
    I also think that the man gave her two skunks for valentine’s day because know one knew why, I think that he looked and looked and must of found something in the skunks eye he liked but I think know one understands.
    When the poet say “You canโ€™t order a poem like you order a taco walk up to the counter, say, โ€œIโ€™ll take twoโ€and expect it to be handed back to you on a shiny plate” meaning a poem sometimes takes a while to think about a good one. Also maybe that the poets saying how to write a good and detailed, interesting poem you need to express your feelings and let it take awhile for your thoughts to finally come out because in the end you’ll have one amazing poem…

  18. ฮฑโ„“ั”ฯ‡ D Alex D.
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 17:39:36

    the first stanza is funny

  19. Meheak
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 18:35:46

    What makes you say that Alex D.?

  20. Cowee (:
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:00:59

    I wish you could order poems on a plate like tacos I love tacos.

  21. Jeremy
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:24:18

    That would be cool

  22. Jeremy
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:25:14

    If only

  23. Jarod Jarod
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:29:27

    That man is strange and cool. Hes strange because he gave his wife a skunk. Hes cool because he looked past the skunk and liked it’s eyes.

    • Eli Eli
      Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:54:52

      No, hes just cool. Anyone who likes animals is awesome to me

  24. Cameron
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:32:45

    I love defining the magic because of the one simile and all metaphors, and I WANT TACOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :):)

  25. Zac
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:38:56

    I think this poem is about how it’s hard to write a poem and that you have to put thought into your poem and you can’t just
    write anything.

  26. Eli Eli
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:41:59

    The first poem I didn’t get,but I liked the second one

  27. Zac
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:44:10

    Over all a great poem.

  28. Eli Eli
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:45:38

    I LOVE skunks,there so ADORABLE ;]

  29. Emily I.
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:46:06

    I think the poet is saying that poetry can hide anywhere. But I think it would be cool to find a poem in a taco.

  30. Brighton707
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:47:00

    I also agree with Cowee that I wish you could order a poem on a silver plate like a taco.

  31. Cowee (:
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:48:28

    So basicly this poem is saying you can buy homework at taco bell for a dollar, that’s pretty awesome. (-=

  32. Brighton707
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:49:11

    I think the poem wants you to know that you cant right a poem and be done with it.

  33. Mario
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:49:59

    Its a where poetry hides

  34. Willow
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:50:37

    I think skunk eyes would be beautiful

  35. Tanner
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:51:26

    I concur with cowee I wish I could order a poem like you can ordera taco I love tacccos so much yum

  36. Sky
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:53:11

    I also agree with cowee that would be cool if you could order a poem on a silver plat like a taco.

  37. Faith
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:54:13

    I don’t concur with Ian because I think the author was trying to tell you to take your time when you are working a poem. I do concur with Zac because the first stanza “You can’t order a poem by saying I’ll take two please”. I think that the poem Defining Magic is about the differences from a good or bad poem. I LOVE TACOS!!!!

  38. Brighton707
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:54:19

    I did as Cole did and changed my username

  39. Rose
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:55:09

    In the last stanza of this poem I think that it means to look all around you and you can find a poem. This is a very wierd poem and I didn’t really like reading it over and over. This poen taught me to look around and write a poem on what you find and when I get home I’m going to sit down in me tree and write a poem. I concur with the man in this poem that skunks eyes are beautiful but skunks are also CUTE!!! I love baby skunks there so adorible!!!

  40. Carsyn
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:55:18

    I think the poem is trying to say that a poem doesn’t come to you you have to look for it. Also I think that the poem is a were poetry hide poem because the poet says “poems hide”. I understand this poem but it is not my favorite poem because it did not seem interesting to me.

  41. Cassidy
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:56:37

    The first poem made me hungry I want taco bell. I like tacos

  42. Sky
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:57:05

    Cowee that would be cool if you order your homework at tocobell for a doller.

  43. Willow
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:57:17

    I concur with Emily that giving a skunk as a valentine would be just plain weird

  44. Carsyn
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:57:44

    I also concur with Faith and Zac because you should take time on a poem and you shouldn’t rush.

  45. BMan
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:57:50

    I agree with Carsyn that a poem doesn’t just walk up to you and say im a poem the best poem and i will give you an A.

  46. Cowee (-=
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:58:27

    I love the first stanza because of tacos I LOVE TACOS <3 tacos are boss!

  47. Carsyn
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:59:09

    I also agree with Cassidy Cole, because the first poem did make me want Taco Bell!

  48. Rose
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:59:21

    The poem made me hungry to. Now I want a taco.:(

  49. Cassidy
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:59:21

    In the second poem I don’t get the part about his feet touching China

  50. Lucas
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:59:36

    I think it is a were poetry hides poem.

  51. Faith
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 09:59:37

    I also think that guy is very strange because he gave a girl a skunk for valentine’s day which is just crazy!!!!:) I have to admit it that baby skunks only baby skunks are pretty adorable and fuzzy!!!! I also want a taco yummy from taco bell!!!!:(

    • BMan :)
      Sep 07, 2012 @ 18:20:09

      I also think the guy is odd because he gave his wife a skunk for valentines. :0

  52. Dylan S. Dylan S.
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 10:00:26

    In Defining Magic the poet is saying a poem needs to pop out.

  53. Tanner == (:
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 10:00:28

    I agree with CassidyI want a tacooo

  54. Jose
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 10:00:58

    I think that the poet is trying to say is the you can find poems any where you look.
    you just have to look hard enough. I think that the mans wife was crying because
    the skunk might have made a bad smell like they always do.I don’t think that
    you can’t reinvent a skunk.

  55. Rachel
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 10:02:12

    I think that the author is trying to say that you can find beauty with in the poem

  56. Lily
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 10:02:28

    I agree with Cassidy, I want Taco Bell

  57. Jeremy
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 10:03:00

    This was an intresting poem. Because the guy gave his wife two skunks for a valentine

  58. Rachel
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 10:04:57

    I agree with cassidy that the first part of the poem made me hugry too.

  59. Lily
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 10:07:51

    I thought that the first poem was very funny, because the thought of giving your wife two skunks for Valintines Day is hiterical!

  60. Lily
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 10:15:12

    I loved the properties of math song. It was awsome.

  61. Rachel
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 10:16:02

    Why would he give his wife a skunk if I was her I would probrably be crying too.But he does have a good reason to give her a skunk.But I would probrably talk to him and tell him why not to give me a skunk.

  62. Rachel
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 10:20:37

    I agree with faith that baby skunks are cute.

  63. Faith
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 15:52:26

    I still want taco bell I am starving people!!!!!! I hate grown up skunks but I love baby skunks!!!!!!!:) THEY ARE SO CUTE!!!!!! I am still hungry!!!:(

  64. BMan
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 17:01:35

    I am starving to!!!!!!!!!!! and I concur with Faith that baby skunks are cute and TACOS RUUUUULLLLEE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  65. BMan
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 17:12:07

    I also think baby Cheetahs are CUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  66. BMan
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 17:17:23

    For everybody who loves baby skunks their is a picture of two baby skunks

  67. BMan :)
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 18:10:37

    Zac are you ready for the game on sat and sun.

  68. BMan :)
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 18:11:22

    ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  69. Brighton
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 18:13:38

    Todd can i come over to your house on wed for the spelling tic tac toe:|

  70. BMan :)
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 19:47:20

    ๐Ÿ™ skunks = cute ๐Ÿ™

  71. Faith
    Sep 08, 2012 @ 08:35:25

    I can’t wait for the next poem of the day!!!!!!:)

  72. Faith
    Sep 08, 2012 @ 08:37:22

    Who is BMan???:|

  73. Ms. McClure Ms. McClure
    Sep 08, 2012 @ 09:01:01

    Hi, Faith. BMan is Brighton, but I hope now that we have discussed the importance of using authentic names, we won’t have to wonder anymore about the identities of comment authors. I am thrilled that you are enjoying our Poem of the Day discussions. There are poems posted for the weekend, too, if you want to check those out.

  74. Faith
    Sep 08, 2012 @ 10:21:42

    Oh well I was a little confused. I just finished my So What poem!!!:) I will look at the poems!! Thank you!! See you on Monday!!

  75. Faith
    Sep 08, 2012 @ 11:15:53

    Hi Ms.Mcclure! How do I change my avatar and make a new one?

  76. Faith
    Sep 08, 2012 @ 11:22:30

    Never mind I changed it

  77. Lily
    Sep 08, 2012 @ 12:09:06

    Ms.McClure, can you post how to get a picture for your self instead of a avatar?

  78. Lily
    Sep 08, 2012 @ 12:10:11

    Like Faiths?

  79. Faith
    Sep 08, 2012 @ 13:24:49

    Hi Lily if your mom has pictures of you on the computer then you go to your profile and click on your picture that you already have and click browse and the computer will give you all the files of the pictures. Sorry that was a long sentence. Then click update and you will have a self picture like mine!!!:):)

  80. Ms. McClure Ms. McClure
    Sep 08, 2012 @ 14:10:55

    Lily and Faith, I am sorry to be late to the conversation. Faith, Lily has given you excellent instructions. Basically, any picture you want can be used along with your name. So if you see a picture you like of anything–a flower, a drama mask, a pink feathery boa, or anything–you can save it to your computer by right clicking on the image. Then go to your profile, click update, then browse for the picture you want on your computer, click crop to have the picture sized to the correct size, and then you will have the new picture for yourself. Faith or I can show you at school on Monday, and then you can choose the picture you want at home that afternoon. Or you can try it this weekend, and if you get stuck, you can email me or Lily for assistance. Good luck!

  81. Eli Eli
    Sep 08, 2012 @ 18:49:50

    Hey guys

  82. Marika
    Sep 07, 2013 @ 12:59:26

    i think this poem is saying that you can make a beautiful poem from anything and you shouldnt look over the little things or look over dead skunks cause they can make a beautiful poem

  83. Ava Ava
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 09:01:59

    A very…..interesting poem. On how you can take anything ugly and remake it into something beautiful, like skunks. ๐Ÿ™‚

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