♥ a trio of chocolate poems for valentine’s day ♥

Just for you: Grandma Rosie’s Chocolate Cake

Will you be my Valentine

I’ve got chocolate chocolate chocolate!

According to my highly scientific research of the last 8 years, most writers claim chocolate inspires their best work. Is it all those mood altering chemicals creating an instant high (the same feeling we get when we fall in love)? Or maybe that pure, eyes-roll-back-in-the-head pleasure when a piece of velvety smooth chocolate brazenly yields to our body heat and melts in our mouths, ever-so-slowly releasing its deep, rich flavor? Yes, and Yes.

Whatever your pleasure — brownies, fudge, ganache, chip, bonbon, bark or bar — chocolate is the language of love. When it speaks, I listen. Chocolate gets my creative juices flowing, makes me fall in love with books, words, reading and writing all over again. I like having a little cacao in my corner, whispering, “You can do it!” 🙂

Today we’re serving up three delectable chocolate poems for your Valentine’s Day pleasure. Gary Hanna offers a bit of sweet seduction, Ed Zahniser rhapsodizes about his intense love for chocolate, while Rita Dove speaks the plain truth: when it comes to chocolate, it’s hopeless to resist.

“Cherry Cordial” by Sarah Sartain

by Gary Hanna

Let me offer you
something tangible
from my heart, like
a cherry cordial
hidden in the dark
chocolate of my eye,
deep in the liqueur
of my personality,
an expectation to
choose from. Some-
thing sweet and
succulent but one
that will not last
too long, only entice
you to come back
for more. Isn’t that
what it’s all about,
on Valentine’s Day.

~ Copyright © 2015 Gary Hanna. From Joys of the Table: An Anthology of Culinary Verse, edited by Sally Zakariya (Richer Resources Publications, 2015).

“Strawberry Drizzled in Chocolate by Rayan Miah

by Ed Zahniser

I want a chocolate torte cake made with no flour.
I want chocolate-covered strawberries — hold the berries.

I want chocolate on a grand scale that won’t weigh me.
I want chocolate so dark it can’t find my waistline.

I want chocolate-covered bananas — hold the bananas.
I want a café mocha — hold the coffee and frothed milk.

I want chocolate lay-away just in case.
I want to try the chocolate case — not hear it.

I want free-standing chocolate-filled — hold the whatever.
I want chocolate mousse as big as Alaskan moose.

I want the Olympic-sized chocolate swimming pool.
I want to look down on chocolate from the diving platform.

I want to be the pool for a chocolate fountain.
I want the economy back on the chocolate standard.

I want SomeMores — hold the crackers and marshmallow.
I want the world’s biggest chocolate bar none.

I want to open a chocolate bar.
I want to be its chocolate bartender.

I want to be a chocolate insurance underwriter.
I want chocolate love handles.

I want chocolate love.
I want chocolate.

~ Copyright © 2010 Ed Zahniser. From The Poet’s Cookbook: Recipes from Germany, edited by Grace Cavalieri and Sabine Pascarelli (Forest Woods Media Productions, Inc., 2010).

Note from Ed: I used the name “Ghazal of Chocolate” for the poem because this Middle Eastern verse form is, as I understand it, pronounced much like the English verb “guzzle.” And I like to guzzle chocolate.

“Chocolates 3” by Joel Penkman

by Rita Dove

Velvet fruit, exquisite square
I hold up to sniff
between finger and thumb –

how you numb me
with your rich attentions!
If I don’t eat you quickly,

you’ll melt in my palm.
Pleasure seeker, if I let you
you’d liquefy everywhere.

Knotted smoke, dark punch
of earth and night and leaf,
for a taste of you

any woman would gladly
crumble to ruin.
Enough chatter: I am ready

to fall in love!

~ Copyright © 2004 Rita Dove. From American Smooth (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2004).

The language of chocolate, the language of love, is evocative and sensual. There’s always something a little bit naughty about chocolate, don’t you think? Sweet sinful indulgence! I’m endlessly fascinated by chocolate’s allure. The darker the better. Even the coy among us are willing to take the plunge. After all, death by chocolate is the only way to go. 🙂

Will you have another bite of cake? This year I decided to make Grandma Rosie’s Chocolate Cake recipe using my new cakelet pan. There’s something extra charming about individual little cakes. Plus, you don’t have to share 😀

As before, the cake turned out moist and fudgy, a one-bowl recipe that’s easy to make with such satisfying results. You may remember I first made this cake for my review of Baking Day at Grandma’s by Anika Denise and Christopher Denise. It was delicious then with a vanilla buttercream frosting, but this time around I wanted a mostly naked chocolate cake (tee hee), so I tried  a little confectioner’s sugar over top, a spritz of whipped cream, and a vanilla glaze + sugar sprinkles. All to die for.




Gary Hanna received two Fellowships in Poetry and five individual artist awards from the Delaware Division of the Arts and a Residency Fellowship to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts from the Mid-Atlantic Art Foundation. He has published two chapbooks: The Homestead Poems and Sediment and Other Poems, both from the Broadkill Press.

Ed Zahniser lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where he co-founded The Good News Paper in 1979 and still serves as poetry editor. He was a founding editor of Some of Us Press in Washington DC in the 1970s, when he worked as assistant editor at The Wilderness Society. Recent books include Mall-Hopping with the Great I AM (Somondoco Press, 2006), At Betty’s Restaurant Thomas Shepherd Loves Danske Dandridge and the Shepherdstown Sonnets (Four Seasons Books, 2014), and At the End of the Self-Help Rope: Poems by Ed Zahniser (Scarith Press, February 2016).

Rita Dove served as Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant to the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995 and as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. She has received numerous literary and academic honors, among them the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and, more recently, the 2003 Emily Couric Leadership Award, the 2001 Duke Ellington Lifetime Achievement Award, the 1997 Sara Lee Frontrunner Award, the 1997 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, the 1996 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, and the 1996 National Humanities Medal. In 2008 she was honored with the Library of Virginia’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2009 she received the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal and the Premio Capri.

Her books of poetry include Sonata Mulattica (W. W. Norton, 2009); American Smooth (W. W. Norton, 2004); and On the Bus with Rosa Parks (W. W. Norton, 1999), which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Dove is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia, where she has been teaching since 1989.

poetry fridayKimberley Moran is hosting today’s Roundup at Written Reflections. Take her some chocolate and check out the full menu of poetic goodness on this week’s menu. Have an especially scrumptious and chocolaty Valentine’s Day weekend!


I leave you with Rita Dove reading “Chocolate”:

♥ ♥ ♥


wkendcookingiconThis post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best aprons and bibs, and come join the fun!





Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

96 thoughts on “♥ a trio of chocolate poems for valentine’s day ♥

  1. Now this:
    “Knotted smoke, dark punch
    of earth and night and leaf”
    Whew. Fans self. Loved all the yes-es somewhere there.
    Exquisite post, as always, dear Jama.
    A chocolatey Valentine to you as well! Hugs.


  2. How fun this post was! Is that an Eloise doll? Be still my beating heart. I love those red floral dishes as well.


  3. Oh I DO love chocolate! And guzzling chocolate — yes! see Robyn’s post. 🙂 I also love the “Jama” heart front-n-center on that yummy Valentine’s plate. Something I’ve recently discovered is this dark chocolate sea salt caramel bark at Fresh Market. I’m on my second box. Since last week! DANGEROUS…. Thank you, Jama! xo


    1. I love sea salt caramel bonbons — haven’t tried the bark yet. It sounds amazing and definitely dangerous.

      The little clay heart is around 45 years old — a friend from college made it for me and I’ve kept it all these years. If you look closely you can see that it was cracked and repaired. Have we not all had our hearts broken at some point?

      Happy Valentine’s Day, Irene — you’ve got me very curious about Bourbon Ball Hot Chocolate :).


  4. “Oh chocolate taste I love so true; nothing else will ever do!” (stolen from a greeting card). Such poems of the glory of chocolate, makes me want to sneak to the kitchen right now to dip into the stash! Thank you, Jama, and Happy Valentine’s Day, hopefully filled with little bites all day long.


    1. Love that you have a chocolate stash, Linda! You must have good will power :). Have a great a V-Day weekend. Will think of you with every bite. . .


  5. Great artwork you chose to go with the poems. And I agree with Kimberley — nice dishes! It seems as though Cornelius might want Eloise to be his valentine.


    1. Yes, Cornelius has taken to Eloise in a big way. She likes to play hard to get, though with that chocolate heart she’s rapidly weakening.


  6. “Guzzle of Chocolate,” that sounds about right! Love, love, love all of this!

    Love, too, Kimberly Moran’s sweet poems about hummingbirds, and those watercolor images! (I know: Quelle surprise!)


    1. Sounds like we should all guzzle to our heart’s content this weekend, Melodye. You could make a lovely book with all your hummingbird photos :).


  7. When I was a child, cherry cordials were the most disappointing of all chocolates to me, and I wouldn’t eat them… which, now that I think of it, probably explains why my mother had them around. Because SHE got to eat them. In peace. Huh.

    Anyway, it intrigued me that there was a poem about them, and artwork, and heck – maybe I should try those bad boys again!! ☺

    Also, Rita Dove’s read-aloud was pitch perfect. I really need chocolate anything now. I, too, am ready to fall in love. Happy Poetry Valentine’s!


    1. I didn’t like cherry cordials at all when I was little. But then, I learned my late FIL really loved them, so we tried to give him a box whenever possible, and I gave them another try. Some are better than others (I’ll gladly pass on those with overly sweet syrup). They’re the kind of candy where one, every now and then, is really enough. Now sea salt caramels are another thing entirely . .


  8. Okay, let me list the stuff I like about this post:
    – Ghazal is pronounced guzzle
    – Rita’s last name is Dove – how perfect is that?
    – life’s chocolate truth: “for a taste of you any woman would gladly crumble to ruin.”
    – heart shaped mini cakes
    – white heart plate
    – red and white floral dishes
    – bear hugs and Eloise
    I am gluten and sugar-free…so I guess my Valentine treat will be heart shaped hamburgers this year! Maybe i can get fancy with some red onions and radishes!


    1. GF AND sugar free? That’s a tough one. What about pieces of fruit cut into heart shapes?

      Rita’s last name is definitely perfect. I always think of chocolate whenever I see her name. Mr. Cornelius sends you extra bear hugs for Valentine’s Day (no need to be jealous of Eloise). 🙂


  9. Rita Dove is one sexy writer and reader of crumbling ruins. I’m ready to fall in love with all this sweet bitter bean beauty! Love your little cakes and how you don’t have to share. Sharing is great, but not having to share is even better. Especially when chocolate is involved. I like your Eloise doll with her snarky half smile. You can tell that she’s used to a superior sort of chocolate, living at the Plaza as she does. 😉 Of course, the sight of Colin Firth, your bear and all that chocolate gave me a moment I’ll remember a long time. XOXO


    1. You make a good point. Eloise definitely goes for high end chocolate. Wouldn’t you, if you had carte blanche with your mother’s credit card? I agree that nobody does crumbling ruins better than Rita Dove. She knows well of what she speaks (and writes about). 😀 Happy Heart Day to you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you another spectacular post. Woke up to a dead car battery this morning; started enjoying your post before heading to the gas station. As a total dark chocolate freak, the imagined taste of all those chocolate wonders distracted and delighted. Thank you!..Again and again, I keep thinking/saying that the beauty of what you create each week–visually, linguistically, nutritionally–needs to be on coffee tables everywhere! Your collectibles are the perfect draw to marketing such a gorgeous, fanciful, practical coffee table book! …The car’s back, fully “juiced,” and I’m celebrating with hot chocolate! Enjoy every minute of this holiday weekend. You’ve made ours so much more virtually, vicariously enjoyable. p.s. Ms. Dove–any relation to Dove Chocolates?


    1. Sorry to hear about the car battery, but glad all is fixed and you’re charged up again, ready to roll. Oooh, nice to know you’re also a dark chocolate freak — so many health benefits too. 🙂 Celebrating with hot chocolate sounds perfect!
      I doubt Ms. Dove is related to Dove Chocolates, but she should get a cut of the profits in any case.

      Thanks for your nice comment. Glad this post cheered you up! Enjoy your weekend!!


      1. Thank you for your reply:)…As much as it saddens me that my dreams of being the author of a beautiful Caldecott hasn’t come true (yet), it pains me even more when I see your exquisite posts and endearing characters week after week that they haven’t been born into books (yet)! Onward.


  11. It wasn’t the chocolate in the title that drew me in, but the dishes! The dishes! I am in love, particularly with that gorgeous teapot.

    And I’m crazy about the ghazal. As always, a scrumptious post. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mr. Cornelius is in charge of the posts. He doesn’t mind all the sweets because he never gains weight. Dangerous for the rest of us, though. Have a lovely Valentine’s Day, Jenn!


  12. Jama, you have completely captivated me with the chocolate feast here. Simply poetryliscious! As a confessed chocoholic, I am indulging in many chocolate thoughts from your post: I want chocolate on a grand scale that won’t weigh me.
    I want chocolate so dark it can’t find my waistline. Thanks for the treat.


  13. Woe, am I ready to guzzle some chocolate right about now! . So much cleverness. So much dark rich gooey goodness – and I’ll have mine served on that red willoware or whatever it is. Love those dishes!


  14. Mmmmm mmmmm, what a post. To die for, for sure. I celebrated it by getting up in the middle to break off a piece of the dark chocolate I always keep stashed in the fridge door. Though I’m sure your delightful cakes are even better. (And that red and white china, all the way from England! And Rita Dove reading her poem! And a chocolate bartender! And… .)


    1. So you have a chocolate stash too? Well, that accounts for your writing inspiration, doesn’t it? 🙂 Bigger pieces for longer poems, little pieces for haiku? Or maybe the other way around, since it’s harder to write short than long.


  15. That’s one of my favorite Rita Dove poems. Your post reminds me of Arnold Adoff’s wonderful book CHOCOLATE DREAMS. I had a student once who was floored that there were poems about such a wonderful subject as chocolate!


  16. That repeating phrase in the Guzzle poem — “hold the _____” — made me laugh every time it showed up! Brilliant!!

    Thanks, as always, for a yummy post.


  17. These poems and the images of the dolls, chocolate, teddy bear, red plates- are just the perfect poetry for Valentine’s Day! It all made me so happy….and desperate for chocolate!


    1. Glad this post made you happy, Kathleen! Mr Cornelius sends extra Valentine’s Day hugs your way. Hope you have lots of chocolate this weekend. 🙂


    1. Those cherry cordials are best eaten sparingly. I’ve come to like them more as an adult — wouldn’t touch them when I was a kid.


  18. I don’t know which poem I love more! The artwork … wow. You can almost smell the chocolate. Now hoping to find a box of dark chocolate all wrapped up for me tomorrow.


  19. Lovely, lovely post–from the three wonderful poems to the artwork, the beautiful red and white tea set, and the adorable little heart-shaped cakes. Mini cakes are always much more fun and inviting. I think the Dove poem is my favorite. 😉


  20. Here’s a quote from one of my favorite actresses, Helena Bonham Carter. (She stars in my third favorite movie of all times–Room with a View.) “There is little that is as deeply satisfying than the apt poem. It’s like chocolate for the soul. Except less fattening. It resolves the nervous system, captures the elusive experience of being alive so we may always have it and never lose it.”

    Liked by 1 person

  21. that {chocolate} death o’ yours cannot have been anything else but sweet, oh gosh, sweet. and dark!! your post is simply hilarious, and i understand it completely. i had dark chocolate and pink pepper corns just yesterday afternoon… wow, that was special too. erm, that was belgian chocolate… dare i say it, the best? ;))).
    so lovely to meet thee!!


    1. oh my — nice to meet another dark chocolate fiend! Some of the BEST chocolate I’ve ever had was Belgian, so we’re in total agreement there (also love Valrhona). Never had any with pink peppercorns, though. Sounds hot! 🙂


  22. I can’t quite tell if Mr. C is sweet on Eloise or the chocolate, but I suspect it might be the latter. What say you, Jama? And amen to this: “I like having a little cacao in my corner, whispering, ‘You can do it!’. Of the three poems, I especially liked the no holds barred exuberance of Ed Zahniser’s “guzzling”.


    1. No holds “barred” — is that a pun? 🙂 Hope you’re not jealous, but I do think Mr. C might be sweet on Eloise. Think he’s itching to stay at the Plaza sometime. I hear you on Ed’s guzzling — the only way to go!


  23. Jama— YUM!!! That’s all! Just YUM! I wish you were my neighbor and I could visit for some of those chocolate heart cakes. And I am totally coveting those red and white plates!


  24. So lovely! It’s been ages since I wrote a poem. I should really be more proactive. Chocolate, on the other hand, is right here beside me! 😀


      1. I was just thinking of that and picked up my Lorna Croziers and Carol Ann Duffs for inspiration, and then think, “oh man, these two already wrote the best poetry!” But then I see the Mary Oliver! 😀


  25. Your poems are such a wonderful valentine, and go so well with the photos and the recipe! Outstanding post.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com


  26. I loved chocolate cherry cordials as a kid! Then someone told me they were fattening. All three poems and their accompanying illustrations are wonderful, and your post is a great calorie-free way to enjoy chocolate!


  27. Lovely post! I’m glad Mr. Cornelius and Eloise got a plate of chocolates to share and your heart cakes, they came out perfect. All the poems are wonderful and I love the artwork. How did you ever find three beautiful pictures of chocolate, all by different artists, that go together so well (in size, style, and content)?


    1. Thanks, Marcia, glad you liked the post. I’m always scouting around for good foodie pics — found one of these on Pinterest, another on Etsy, and the third, by Joel Penkman came from a blog post I did on her art awhile back. I size every image that I share here myself to fit my main column width (500p), including the pics I take myself. Most are linked via Photobucket because they’re sometimes very large files and I have more storage space there than I have here on WordPress.


  28. Mmmmm, chocolate! Ed Zahniser’s poem especially spoke to me:
    “I want the Olympic-sized chocolate swimming pool.
    I want to look down on chocolate from the diving platform.” *bliss*
    Happy Valentine’s Day, Jama!


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