Love Poems

Nikki Giovanni

A collection of love poems from across Nikki Giovanni’s career that encompass contexts of love beyond the romantic variety — the book is dedicated to Tupac Shakur and the poem “All Eyez On U” mourns “a beautiful boy to lose,” connecting his influence and loss to Emmett Till and Martin Luther King, Jr. There is no lack of more sentimental and sultry love poems though, from “The Way I Feel” and “Seduction” and the one that follows here, which you can also listen to from her album from 1975 featuring backing music by Arif Mardin.

Just a New York Poem

i wanted to take

your hand and run with you

together toward

ourselves down the street to your street

i wanted to laugh aloud

and skip the notes past

the marquee advertising “women

in love” past the record

shop with “The Spirit

In The Dark” past the smoke shop

past the park and no

parking today signs

past the people watching me in

my blue velvet and i don’t remember

what you wore but only that i didn’t want

anything to be wearing you

i wanted to give

myself to the cyclone that is

your arms

and let you in the eye of my hurricane and know

the calm before


and some fall evening

after the cocktails

and the very expensive and very bad

steak served with day-old potatoes

after the second cup of coffee taken

while listening to the rejected

violin player

maybe some fall evening

when the taxis have passed you by

and that light sort of rain

that occasionally falls

in new york begins

you’ll take a thought

and laugh aloud

the notes carrying all the way over

to me and we’ll run again


toward each other