As Sandy could tell you, I never follow simple instructions. Big Tent Poetry’s http://bigtentpoetry.org/ prompt for day five of NaPoWriMo is, “Write a letter poem to someone in a war zone or a revolution,” so I turned it upside down.

This ended up with a strange meter. I’m not sure what to call it, but like so much of what I write, I had nothing to do with it; my muse was in full control.

UPDATE 4/7/11: Victoria at liv2write2day used this poem as a prompt and wrote a response from Elizabeth. It is one of the most tender, beautiful poems I have ever read. To see both poems as a set, visit her posting at http://liv2write2day.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/war-letters-napowrimo-day-5/. Open a fresh box of tissues.

by Mike Patrick

Civil War cannon firing

Flickr image by Tom Gill (lapstrrake)

From his pack he drew his ink,
a lone parchment and a quill
and laid them out beside him
in the mud upon the hill.

Moments before, he’d felt it;
with a thud the bullet struck,
dropping him onto the ground
where he lay there in the muck.

The cannons roared about him,
and the Minié balls whizzed by,
as he penned his last letter,
for Elizabeth’s goodbye.

Elizabeth, I love you,
and this heart within me cries
for the sight of you again
and the light within your eyes.

So young we were when married,
yet you made the perfect wife.
We didn’t know the drums of war
would bring agony and strife.

You placed a candle, facing south,
from the highest window sill,
to guide me when I return,
if it should be God’s will.

This war that kept me from you
now forever keeps me here.
The moments which are passing
are the last for me my dear.

I pray you’ll find another,
Your life cannot be as one.
Blow out the guiding candle;
remember me to our son.

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15 Responses to ELIZABETH I LOVE YOU

  1. vivinfrance says:

    A brave and loving end. The rhythm in tri-and tetrameter re-inforces the feeling of the disruption of war.

  2. Tilly Bud says:

    A lovely poem; so sad. Full of yearning.

  3. This gave me the chills. I agree with Viv re: the meter, although I’m not an expert. It works beautifully.

  4. Mike, may I use this poem to respond to as the challenege from NaPoWriMo for today? I will paste it and your link in my post and, of course, give you credit. Let me know as soon as you can. I’m going to get the post ready and wait to hear from you.

  5. earlybird says:

    gulp. so sad.

  6. Marianne says:

    Oh, so sad. I think everything you did here works beautifully.

  7. Bodhirose says:

    Mike, I love this beautiful letter/poem you wrote. I saw it first on Victoria’s blog where she responded to it equally as tenderly. They both left me with a lump in my throat. Beautifully done–you did so well.

  8. trisha says:

    another marvelous poem mike, god has blessed you with a pair of golden hands and a soul of diamond.

  9. Thanks for the mention, Mike, and for allowing me to use your poem.

  10. pamela says:

    Beautifully executed poem, Mike. I love a good sonnet.


  11. Mr. Walker says:

    Mike, this is lovely and sad. You weave his love for Elizabeth all through the poem, and then punched me in the gut with the last line when I learned he was also a father.

  12. This is poignantly beautiful. It speaks about his deep love and futility of war…

    order of the day

  13. Tumblewords says:

    Poignant. Powerful and heart reaching.

  14. Deb says:

    Poignant is the best word to describe your poem.

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