Verse Letter with Paint Chips

Friday is upon us once again. I started a six week sabbatical leave of absence from work on Monday and really thought I would get this prompt written well ahead of time. Time to write was a big part of my sabbatical plan. I did do some writing and submitted some poems and articles for publication elsewhere. And yet, here it is Thursday evening and I’m writing my Friday prompt.

Anyway, we’ve moved into the V section of the poetry dictionary. There are a few good selections and I think we’ll still be in this section of the dictionary next week. (I’m actually going to plan ahead for that one). For this week I’ve chosen the verse letter as the prompt. According to John Drury, the definition is as follows:

VERSE LETTER (also called epistle, epistolary poem, or letter poem) A poem written in the form of a letter.

Except in the case of an “open letter” or a “letter to the editor,” most letters are addressed to one specific person by another specific persontwo characters, one speaking and one listening. A letter in verse can be an actual letter. Marvin Bell and William Stafford exchanged the verse letters that eventually became the book Segues. But the letter can also be a vehicle for a dramatic monologue, in which a character other than the author speaks, as in Richard Howard’s “1801.” Sometimes verse letters will include dates, salutations, complimentary closes, and “signatures,” but often they will not.

the poetry dictionary, pg. 332

The Challenge

Your challenge today is to write a verse letter. You can choose to write it as an open letter, a letter to the editor, or a letter to a friend or relative. It could be a letter to anyone you choose, even a fictional character of your own making. It doesn’t have to be long or particularly eloquent. I hope it will be a letter from the heart.

The paint chip words and phrases you have to work with are monk’s robe, relish, tongue-tied, night owl, black cat, red clay, and sunburst.

I would like you to use at least four of these words and phrases in your verse letter. Bonus points for anyone who figures out how to work monk’s robe into their verse. (And I don’t think that’s the color of an actual monk’s robe.)

My Poem

I have a verse letter I’d love to write to someone I love, but I’m going to save that one for my journal or another day. Maybe I’ll write it and actually send it. Maybe not. At any rate, I’ve come up with something else using these paint chips.

My Dearest Friend,

You have been a sunburst
in my darkest days and for that I thank you.
Even when I'm tongue-tied and unable to express
the anguish in my heart, you listen.
You patiently listen and offer counsel sweet.
I relish the few days we get to spend together.

We once would sit up late and talk,
like night owls, until the wee hours of the morning.
But we're not so young anymore and require rest.
The warmth of our monk's robe awaits as sleep beckons.
With the fortunes of the black cat we will rise with the red clay dawn,
begin a new day of comradery and grace.
In each other we find hope and peace and love.

Thank you, sweet friend, for all, for everything,
for the years, 
for the words,
for the tears,
for the laughs,
and for the promise of days and years to come.

Until we meet again,

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to write a verse letter to whomever you choose. You can share your poem in the comments, or you can post it on your blog and drop a link in the comments. Please check out and comment on the other poems shared in response to this prompt and share a link to the prompt with your readers so they can join the fun. Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with a verse letter that you actually decide to send to the recipient.

And for those of you who are wondering what CYH&L means, it’s a salutation created by me and my college roommates. It means Consider Yourself Hugged & Loved.

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


13 Responses

  1. It is a blessing to have known a friend who patiently listens while supporting each other in “hope and peace and love”. Your poem reminds me that I should listen better to those around me.


    Short Letter to a Self-Centered Dream That Wasted Much Time

    Looking back I tried to do
    the black cat things you teased me to.
    Convinced that what you spoke was true
    with night owl eyes I followed you.

    You’re tongue-tied. Good, but I still thirst
    and relish for a fresh sunburst.

  2. Took a little time.

    To the entitled I leave this untitled

    I get tongue-tied when I speak
    Your syllables like vines choke me
    And you say poetry has to rhyme
    So you can’t relish every line
    I see the monk’s robe that you wear
    But underneath I don’t know who’s there
    A vow of silence and plea for trust
    Like red clay I taste its rust
    I love the sound of a night owl
    Sunbursts lull them to sleep

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