Small revolutions


14 Words for One Love on Valentine’s Day

Jodi Barnes is a poet who lives near me and has started something amazing. As a loving and revolutionary response to the white supremacist “14 words” of intolerance, she has been collecting 14-word poems on love of all kinds. Her plan is to enlist a posse and hand out these poems one at a time on Valentine’s Day. Her original goal was 1400 poems, but I think we’ve already blown the lid off of that.

Click on the picture to check it out.

I guess I’ve made it clear here that I’m working toward recovery from a fairly nasty bout of depression, that my writing has stalled off and on, and that I’m trying to feel okay about things out of my control but that affect me and my family greatly. So while this 14 Words for One Love on Valentine’s Day thing caught my eye, and I joined the event, I didn’t intend to write more than one or two baby poems. I just didn’t have it in me.

The problem, well, more like the wonder, was that once I wrote a couple, I wanted to write more and more. When you attack the many crazy angles of love a few words at a time, you get the pleasure of little tastes, different views, and a forced clarity that I adore more and more with each passing poem. It may not be the cure to all that ails me, but it’s been a hell of a healthy distraction, at the very least.

So every day I’m writing little baby poems, some sublime, some ridiculous, all healing. Reading the words of others and talking about them is an incredible bonus, and being a part of something larger and completely open just makes the air taste better for me all around. I’m hoping there will be a collection of these poems, because even though the idea is to send them all out into the world as free little birds (yes, a pun, of course), the creation itself is worth holding onto.

I’m so grateful for this chance to contribute, and to put my own pain and pleasure to good use in the world, even if it’s just a touch. There are people from all walks writing poems, people from across oceans, people living under rocks, people suffering as people do. It is a small and magnificent world, and I can’t wait to hear all about how the poems have flown.

Here’s just a smattering of my baby 14-word poems…


there’s no cure
for a broken heart
but I do recommend
the emergency chocolate
she visits him daily
he ponders her
before asking
who are you?
he is bleeding
cut to ribbons
from squeezing
through your narrow
of love

my morning love
begins with a bean
please pass the cream
grubby hands
triumphantly present
a struggling frog
eyes bulging
an offering of pure wonder
wet nose
and slobbery tongue
remind me
what it means
to belong
to someone

hope is like air
it’s everywhere
you lick it from your fingertips
and smile
leave me alone
she shouts
hoping I’ll know
she really means
please don’t go
you knew me once
but fail to recognize
i’m rearranged
and you haven’t changed


  1. Jodi Barnes

    Thank you for sharing this! The outpouring of kindness and generosity is happily overwhelming me. I, too, have episodic depressive times and this has been the best, most amazing, therapy — to witness people coming together, expressing their art and making deeper connections. Love to you!

    1. it's nothing really

      Thanks Jodi, I can’t even express how grateful I am in more than 14 words.

  2. Ron Jackson

    Liesl, I have also suffered from depression. In younger days, pretty serious. I worked hard and now it’s less incapacitating, briefer, fewer and further between. I also treat myself better when bouts do occur. Lots of work in therapy and making true friends has made all the difference. I am truly touched by your openness here and your poetry on 14 Words. Beside the content of the poems, which is always touching, they work beautifully as poems. You are funny, poignant, spirited, and clever. Great combo. You got some game, girl!

    1. it's nothing really

      Wow, thank you very much. As for being open, I’m amazed how many people have reached out to me to talk about their own experiences. It gives me courage, because we’re all going through something, and if I can help by just even mentioning it, well, I’m mentioning it. It’s good for the soul.

  3. Pearl Ketover Prilik

    Liesl . … your video was nothing short of wonder-full! I have sent links to NPR and WNYC (public US radio stations). You are wonderfully talented and putting some of the poems together in such a delightful presentation was absolutely brilliant – I also promoted the link on FB – if I could fly a banner announcing your creation born from Jodi Barnes fantastically unifying project – I would!

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