Poem of the Week | May 24, 2021

This week’s Poem of the Week is “he doesn’t flirt with me, he just texts me love poems” by Zain Murdock!

Zain Murdock is a 21-year-old Pisces who loves radically. Her work has previously been featured by The Adroit Journal, Aunt Chloe, and the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. She’s receiving her BA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, but spent half of those years in Silver Spring, Maryland falling in love. When Zain dies, she hopes to grab a drink with James Baldwin and ask him if, or when, he thinks the world is going to be okay. Sometimes she posts her poems on her Instagram, @zaineyre.


he doesn’t flirt with me, he just texts me love poems

& that’s okay, but
I wonder if he sends me the poems because he thinks
they’re good or if he thinks they’re beautiful or

if he sends them because he thinks I’m beautiful—yes,
maybe, I tell myself, & in my line-by-
line analysis of Aracelis & Hanif & Jericho, I try

to platonicize the idea that he 1) reads love poems,
2) thought about me, & 3) sent them in a text; we
aren’t together, so when he texts me if someone

said something like that to me, I’d just say ‘fuck it, let’s get
, the weight of my body sits cross-legged over these fingers
because I know myself—I’d say I would totally

say that to you & he’d say something like oh
& before the inevitable I didn’t really mean it like
I’d be halfway packed & booking

my flight to Canada—some do it for the universal healthcare,
me, the mortifying ordeal of being seen
by someone; instead, I text back yeah,

me too, & hope that somewhere,
between the 2 minute, 40
second delay in sending my response, he

could read between the lines of Helvetica & imagine
a world in which we’ve been writing things like this
for each other, maybe

even better things, a world
in which one of us says something like that &
the other says for me?

rhetorically, & one of us says

something I’ve yet to think of,
because we haven’t, & maybe won’t.


Author’s Note

This poem was really the first time I allowed myself to write about love in a way that didn’t make me feel ashamed. All the parts about analyzing text messages, reading between the silences, and holding this imaginative happiness safely and secretively to myself — I really had to get that out somehow or else I think I would have exploded. Love is so embarrassing, it makes me smile. It’s funny looking back at this poem – that’s full of, if anything, summer-intensified yearning and admiration for other poets’ work — because I used the poem to confess my feelings only a few weeks later. The response: “i’m hella happy that yr not in canada & that we can send each other poems like this now.”