I’m in a long distance relationship with a swell guy and he penned me a poem for my birthday. It was very sweet but also quite bad. Can poetry help me tell him I appreciate the thought but not the actual poem? — Shannon

 

I hope so. But because chat or email can propagate misunderstanding, let me also underscore the importance of using emoticons, smileys or hearts in your case. I’m not sure why that works, especially when you give him a poem — far more nuanced and thoughtful than a colon-hyphen-closed parenthesis mark — but I read somewhere that you should do that in online communications with personal relationships. Anyway, it seemed fitting to look through Ted Kooser’s book, Valentines, where I found a poem that could help you tell him this (though it won’t, unfortunately, do… More…