Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Poetry Stretch - Epistle

I've been cleaning house and found a stack of old letters my mother sent me. It seems no one writes letters anymore. My mother claims she was a terrible letter writer, always sharing the most boring tidbits, but the news from home was and is always welcome.

After spending nearly two weeks in the hospital, my mother has been in rehab for about a week. I've been writing short notes, but think a letter is long overdue. Perhaps even a poem is called for. So today I'm thinking of an epistle. An epistle is a poem read as a letter. One of my favorite epistle poems is by Elizabeth Bishop. Here's an excerpt.
Letter to N.Y.  
For Louise Crane  
In your next letter I wish you'd say
where you are going and what you are doing;
how are the plays, and after the plays
what other pleasures you're pursuing: 
taking cabs in the middle of the night,
driving as if to save your soul
where the road goes round and round the park
and the meter glares like a moral owl, 
So, there's your challenge. Will you share an epistle with me this week?


  1. Had written this back in May as part of my poetry-a-day project:

    Letter to a Friend Just Out of the Hospital

    Take care of yourself. Please.
    In the last month I have lost
    three dear friends and a cousin.
    Another is recovering from a heart attack,
    and I just passed the sixth year
    without my darling husband.

    Take care of yourself because
    I am selfishly aware that my past
    is now Swiss cheese.
    Soon there will be more holes in it
    than substance.

    Take care of yourself because
    your mortality reminds me of my own,
    and frankly, I don't need more reminding.
    The refrigerator is full of medicines,
    and I travel with a pharmacy.

    Take care of yourself
    so you can turn around
    and take care of me.

    --for Ron R.

  2. Dear Sirs,

    I cannot help but think you irresponsible.
    When my son sent in the carefully cut-out coupon
    from his comic book and $5, who was to know
    our household would receive a singular box
    containing, not one, nor two, but three
    dinosaur eggs. And not the spawn
    of vegetarian beasts. At least you might
    have thought of that. As it is, the dog
    is gone, the cat is no more, and we are staying
    in a hotel, for which cost I expect reimbursement.
    My wife is in strong hysterics, and if I do not
    receive a dinosaur wrangler and the money
    we're owed very soon, I shall send her to you.
    Then you will find dinosaurs a paltry thing,
    I assure you. Next you will be recipient
    of my son, comic books and all. Take heed.

    Edward Q. Samuelson, Esq.

    --Kate Coombs, 2012
    all rights reserved

  3. I'm a little surprised at my outcome. I started out for a sweet welcome-summer letter & it turned out a bit more than that.

    Dear Summer,

    I have missed you all year,
    Yet now that you are about to arrive
    And I know that you are near
    I wonder about the long days

    and nights of heat - wanting
    the sheets to be placed first
    in the freezer. I will be taunting
    others to try this new idea

    and to forget being embarrassed
    that our bodies sweat,
    because finally the merest
    thought of you makes me

    want you here right now.

  4. Dear Son,

    You have no idea the excitement
    and challenges that wait your existence.
    Our world can be colder than an ice floe
    yet as warm as star shine, it's all how
    look at the universe. Friend or foe.
    You'll meet backstabbing humans disguised
    as altruistic humanity, have bank accounts
    more bare than a long ago cupboard. Time will
    come when it doesn't seem worth living, until
    you smell the fragrance of an infant, consume
    homemade strawberry shortcake pie, feel salt
    water coursing between your toes, it is those
    moments when you'll feel hope quicken your heartbeat.
    Those are the moments I wish for you, little one.
    While continuing this time in Momma's uterus know one
    thing, I'm waiting with a smile of my face bigger than Ursa Major.



    (c) Charles Waters 2012 all rights reserved.