D. H. Lawrence once wrote: "What sex is, we don't know, but it must be some sort of fire. For it always communicates a sense of warmth, of glow. And when the glow becomes a pure shine, then we feel the sense of beauty." Wendy Maltz, the editor of this anthology of 117 poems on sexual love, is a well-known sex therapist and marriage counselor. In the introduction to this tenth anniversary edition of Passionate Hearts, she reveals her respect for the mystery of sexual intimacy when lovers reach out to each other in passion, tenderness, and heightened feeling.

Given the cultural profusion of "junk sex," Maltz decided to focus on poems about the adventure and pleasure of sexual intimacy. She sought out what she calls "heartcore" poems that explore mutual caring and desire, the equality of the sexes, the value of emotional trust and honesty, and the delights and enchantments of the flesh.

The poems are divided into sections on "Tender Awakenings" (poems that explore the first spark of initial attraction); "Passionate Pleasures " (the infinite ways two bodies, two hearts, might intertwine as one); "Varied Dances" (tackling the challenges of long-term relationship); "Deeper Intimacies" (moments of conscious loving in which self and the partner are revealed); and "Graceful Transformations" (maintaining pleasure and delight as we evolve as a couple over time and amidst changes in our lives). Healthy sexual relating is an adventure, and Maltz has put together an extraordinary anthology of poems that encourage us to stay the course with passion and feeling and creativity. Here is a sampler of brief poems:


In my hands your
body is a hymnal
open to the familiar
page of praise. I
sing you in the ancient
rhythm that brought
us all here to make
what we will of
this world, I sing
you in tongues and
in silent awe of our
loving, certain only
of imminent separation.
— anne k. smith

Your Body Glistens from the Bath

in the mirror in front of me
my hands on you
your hands reach back
as we stand dripping
slippery and delicious
our tongues and we
begin again
the long slow dance
we have perfected
like pilgrims returning
home again
to the promised land.
— charles rossiter

Place Setting
Hold me

let me lay my head
in that special spot
on your chest
beneath your chin
where I fit so well.
— johari m. rashad