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Poetry Moment: 'The "V" in Love', by Ron Mohring

Ron Mohring
Ron Mohring

This is Poetry Moment on WPSU – a weekly program featuring the work of contemporary Pennsylvania poets. Your host is poet and author Marjorie Maddox, a 2023 Monson Arts Fellow, author of 20 books, and professor of English and creative writing at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University. 

Welcome to Poetry Moment.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Maybe you remember a time—or many times—when you fell in love. Not everyone, of course, loves the heart holiday. In fact, you might better remember the times you fell OUT of love. Today’s poem, “The ‘V’ in Love” by Ron Mohring, skillfully captures the before, during, and after moments of this frequently analyzed emotion.

Ron Mohring’s newest poetry collections are Relative Hearts (Lily Poetry Review) and The Boy Who Reads in the Trees (The Word Works). In 2007 he founded Seven Kitchens Press in Lewisburg, PA by launching the Keystone Chapbook Series for Pennsylvania poets. To date, the press has published nearly 200 titles through eight separate series. Currently, Mohring lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Ron Mohring remembers the afternoon that he drafted “The ‘V’ in Love.” He had been selected as a visiting poet for Bucknell University’s Philip Roth Residency and for weeks had composed poem after poem in a small basement office of Bucknell Hall in Lewisburg. He describes those first “buzzy moments” of writing today’s poem the same way someone else might describe love: “that heightened window when you’ve just written something new and feel like you could walk on a cloud....”

So, of course, he did what you might do when you’re in love—or, in this case, in love with writing. He ran down the hall to share the moment with a poet friend, then Stadler Poetry Center director Cynthia Hogue.

Listen. Even the letters in Love give new insight into our complicated relationship with the word.

Here’s “The ‘V’ in Love” by Ron Mohring.

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The v in love divides the word:
It’s lov, we say. We sing it out,
a single note we want to hold,
unfold, extend in range. We forget  

the coiled eating quietly
its tail, hungry ghost that eyes
not the slender l, the keen sharp v,
but instead the appetizing  

Oso fat, so filling, so
necessary to the whole
experience—and isn’t 
the undisputed heart of all  

we mean? Don’t we love to murmur
O, and oour mouths round
with pleasure? How love sounds.
How silent the at the end, its closure.  

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This poem was first published in Alaska Quarterly Review in 2002, and later appeared in the poet’s book Survivable World (The Word Works, 2003).
- - -

That was “The ‘V’ in Love” by Ron Mohring. Thanks for listening.

Listen for Poetry Moment with Marjorie Maddox Mondays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered on WPSU. You can more episodes at

Our theme music is by Eric Ian Farmer.

Marjorie Maddox is the host of WPSU's Poetry Moment for the 2023-24 season. She has been a professor of English and creative writing since 1990 at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University.