Writing letters is another great way to find the poem within a certain situation. For today’s Kick in the Poetry Can’ts, write a letter to someone who is dead, it can be someone you knew or a total stranger, and then turn it into a poem. I find this easiest to just write out the long prose version first and then go back and revise it with a poetic eye.

Here’s my letter poem to a girl who died when she was sixteen.

We were never friends
but I knew who you were
that long, black hair you refused to cut
that cigarette you popped in your mouth as soon as the bell rang
that purple backpack you carried everywhere
that boy you glued yourself to,
not caring who saw you swapping spit
and playing touchy feely games under the bleachers

We were never friends
but I followed you once
not on purpose, okay, maybe I meant to
but I didn’t mean to see him hit you
I didn’t mean to see you cry
I didn’t mean to run away
knocking over the garbage can next to the snack shack
making him growl at me the way he growled at you
making me so afraid
that I forgot about him hitting you
and only thought getting away
before he hit me too.

much later
after so much
later I wondered
if I could have saved you

even later
I wonder if I can save myself

–Susan Taylor Brown, all rights reserved

Your turn.