Love by Its First Name: our contest continues

 (here Dr. Don Hanley is seen providing therapeutic advice about puppy love to one of his clients)


Hello once more from the towers that are A Word with You Press. It my privilege to be the friend of Dr. Don Hanley, one of the more youthful participants in AWwYP activities and workshops over the years. For Don, his first real expression of love was an act of courage and a leap of faith. Don grew up hard-scrabble at the end of the Depression, and was convinced that he could best show love as a priest dedicated to relieving the misery of those even less fortunate than himself. He was willing to sacrifice his own desires for the greater good of the humanity and God he wished to serve. But Don could sniff the poison at the well: Love and sexual expression, so palliative to the human spirit, was re-engineered by the church dogma to such a degree that Don concluded that towing the company line only added to the suffering of those he had dedicated his life to helping. So he did the logical and terribly romantic thing: he quit the priesthood and eloped with a sister of the faith who admired his heroic stance.  They have been married ever since, and Don has become a professor and counselor specializing in sexual and relationship disorders.

He is a past recipient of the prestigious San Diego Book Awards for best unpublished novel Love by Its First Name and a couples guide Visiting Angels; Home Devils (A Word with You Press).

Don asked me to publish this poem which he wrote for his beloved so many years ago.


By Don Hanley


To love is to be involved

To become totally immersed

To let go of what one is is

To become who one is


To rise to a new understanding

Of what it is to-be-with-others-in-the-world

To let go

To be anger






The sin is to be afraid

To always defend oneself

To be cold

Is to be sorry for

Anger and hate

Passion and love



The mystery of Love, is the mystery of one

Who immersing himself in life with another

Allows passion, anger



Love and Death

To uncover the mystery of who he is


Who is not afraid to enter totally into life

Because he knows

Life gives life

Anger is a correction

And through death, love is born


And it is through LOVE

That I have courage to be immersed

To know I need not be crushed

To hope

To rise to new life

To be my true self

5 thoughts on “Love by Its First Name: our contest continues

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    Well, here we have power words flung onto a page which mean many things to different people. There are many twist and turns here where I must admit I ran off the road to understand the point or the direction to come. I appreciate every attempt and courage to enter pieces into this publisher’s site of so extremely talented, passionate and articulate writers. So thank you Don for your contribution.

  2. Diane Cresswell says:

    Spot on and beautifully written Don. Love has no boundaries and comes in so many forms, even anger. The old saying: we only hurt the ones we love comes to mind here. If we humans could only grasp the concept of ‘being in the world’ means we are connected to everything and everyone, maybe just maybe each individual will see our interconnection and be mindful of what is instead of what isn’t. You have placed that premise so well. Thank you.

  3. Kristine Rose Grant says:

    Thanks Don, for sharing your very poignant love poem. In the words of Jampolsky, “Love is Letting Go of Fear”

  4. KYLE Katz says:

    My heart bathed itself in the magic of your words. You understand yourself, you understand love. What is, pure, complicated, gentle, struggling to reach all emotions. Only when we know those emotions can we sit in the presence of love. When the violin strings are to tight they can break. When they are too lose, it cannot play a song!

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