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Epistolary (Letter) Poem

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Write a poem that is in the form of a letter to a person from your past, a person from history, or a place. As you revise the poem, examine the poem's structure, looking for patterns. How many syllables are most of the lines? How many lines make up each unit (or stanza). Once you get a sense of the structure, revise the poem  accordingly. 

Langston Hughes Epistolary Poem:

Dear Mama,
    Time I pay rent and get my food
and laundry I don't have much left
but here is five dollars for you
to show you I still appreciates you.
My girl-friend send her love and say
she hopes to lay eyes on you sometime in life.
Mama, it has been raining cats and dogs up
here. Well, that is all so I will close.
    Your son baby
        Respectably as ever,
          Joe

OR:
Story in Letters:

Write a story composed entirely of letters from one character to another who never replies. The characters could know each other or could be complete strangers. For an example, read Claire Vaye Watkins's story "The Last Thing We Need" in her collection Battleborn (Riverhead Books, 2012).

July 28
Duane Moser
1077 Pincay Drive
Henderson, Nevada 89015

Dear Mr Moser

On the afternoon of June 25 while on my last outing to Rhyolite, I was driving down Cane Springs Road some ten miles outside Beatty and happened upon what looked to be the debris left over from an auto accident. I got out of my truck and took a look around. The valley was bone dry. A hot west wind took the puffs of dust from where I stepped and curled them away like ashes. Near the wash I found broken glass, deep gouges in the dirt running off the side of the road, and an array of freshly bought groceries tumbled among the creosote. Coke cans (some full, some open and empty, some still sealed but dented and half full and leaking). Bud Light cans in the same shape as the Coke. Fritos. Meat. Et cetera. Of particular interest to me were the two almost-full prescriptions that had been filled at the pharmacy in Tonopah only three days before, and a sealed Ziploc bag full of letters signed M. I also took notice of a bundle of photos of an old car, part primer, part rust, that I presume was or is going to be restored. The car was a Chevy Chevelle, a ’66, I believe. I once knew a man who drove a Chevelle. Both medications had bright yellow stickers on their sides warning against drinking alcohol while taking them. Enter the Bud Light, and the gouges in the dirt, possibly. I copied your address off those prescription bottles. What happened out there? Where is your car? Why were the medications, food and other supplies left behind? Who are you, Duane Moser? What were you looking for out at Rhyolite?

I hope this letter finds you, and finds you well. Please write back.

Truly,
Thomas Grey
PO Box 129, Verdi
Nevada 89439

PS I left most of the debris in the desert, save for the medications, pictures and letters from M. I also took the plastic grocery bags, which I untangled from the bushes and recycled on my way through Reno. It didn’t feel right to just leave them out there.

August 16
Duane Moser
1077 Pincay Drive
Henderson, Nevada 89015

Dear Mr Moser

This morning, as I fed the horses, clouds were just beginning to slide down the slope of the Sierras, and I was reminded once again of Rhyolite. When I came inside I borrowed my father’s old copy of the Physician’s Desk Reference from his room. From that book I have gathered that before driving out to Rhyolite you may have been feeling out of control, alone, or hopeless. You were possibly in a state of extreme depression; perhaps you were even considering hurting yourself. Judging by the date the prescriptions were filled and the number of pills left in the bottles – which I have counted, sitting out in the fields atop a tractor which I let sputter and die, eating the sandwich which my wife fixed me for lunch – you had not been taking the medications long enough for them to counteract your possible feelings of despair. ‘Despair’, ‘depression’, ‘hopeless’, ‘alone’. These are the words of the PDR, 41st Edition, which I returned to my father promptly, as per his request. My father can be difficult. He spends his days shut up in his room, reading old crime novels populated by dames and Negroes, or watching the TV we bought him with the volume up too high. Some days he refuses to eat. Duane Moser, my father never thought he would live this long.

I think there will be lightning tonight; the air has that feel. Please, write back.

Truly,
Thomas Grey
PO Box 129, Verdi
Nevada 89439