Rosie The Riveter Writes An Email...and other words

I’m in Iowa City for part of their Summer Writing Series. They have workshops in all sorts of writing (poetry, fiction, nonfiction) and week-long or weekend sessions. This week I’m here for their first ever Round Robin Session where each day you study a different type of writing. I thought it’d force me to ‘look outside myself’ for a bit, and it is. There was a presentation on poetry and we were encouraged to write a prose poem using a celebrity or historical figure, but put them in an everyday setting. Here’s what I came up with:


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Rosie The Riveter Writes An Email

Rosie the Riveter sits down to write an email. It feels pointless, to strong-arm her ex this way, but what can she do? Words are her weapons, the way she drills. There is no ‘hello’ no ‘dear’ nor even his name. She starts with How could you? How? She lets the words rest and breathe a bit. Sips her latte. Adjusts her kerchief. Flexes her toes. Hovers over the delete key then pounds and pounds and pounds. She won’t win her war with him. Not this way. She raises her fist to their picture on the mantel and gets back to work.


Then in a three-hour class, I studied poetry with Sabrina Orah Mark and she had us read and savor poetry. Then we wrote our own pieces. The prompt was to take a phrase and deconstruct it. I’ve spent so long writing bad poetry (see here) that I had to flip my brain to try to write something serious.

Here’s that one:


I do not think I can say “Let it go” Without singing. It wasn’t always a song. It was an order. A command.

“Let” plush lips, a soft whine, bitten off by the teeth “It” a single breath, reducing the enemy to tin soldiers standing side by side. “Go” then the breath, the release, the parted lips followed by a kiss.

Let. It. Go. The phrase itself a mirror of the action.

It is not just a song. It is an anthem.

Change, then, the words. Ruffle the sheets. Wrinkle the shirt. Let “Go” be first. Breathe and moan, then spit. Force the enemy away. Go, let it.

Or take one more step. Drop the bite entirely. Exist in a breath a whisper a prayer.

Let the one word stand: Go. Draw it out.

Or, drop the word altogether, like stepping from a wet suit. Leave it heavy at your feet. Emerge. Breathe. Be a song.



I don’t know if my little poems are good or not, but it was fun to get those old writing muscles flexing. And it’s nice to be reminded how much I love language, and its music, and the beauty of giving emotion shape and form.


Oh, baby!