Vol. 4, No.4      An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society     1 April 2005


William Wordsworth said that a poem is emotion recollected in tranquility.  The poem is the evidence that the poet saw, felt, and later recalled what he or she saw, felt, and recalled.  Poets are thus survivors of the experiences they have had or imagined.  Many of us are also fans of CBS's reality series Survivor on which 16-20 men and women are carried to some isolated part of the world to survive the deprivation of creature comforts and the machinations of their fellow sufferers.  The last person standing after all sorts of competitions during 39-40 days wins a million dollars and a lifetime of telling everyone else the strategies he or she developed to win the money.  Who knows?  Perhaps some winners may even write poems about their experiences.  Most of us, however, will never be on that show, but all of us use our lives and the lives of others we know in our art.  We may never leave home to visit faraway places, but we can share our home poems with those who travel through them to our backyards to see what we found there.  Think  what Emily Dickinson found in her backyard!  As for the role of a vivid imagination, we know many great writers never visited the settings of their triumph.  Stephen Crane was never at Chancellorsville.  He learned about the Civil War of his novel and poetry from a veteran who taught in a school Crane attended.  Jonathan Swift certainly never sailed to Lilliput, and John Milton never visited Eden or Heaven or Hell before writing Paradise Lost  So there is no excuse for not making poems from the feelings you have now in the place you are now.  Have you survived any reality recently? 
                                                                                                                    -- Tom Padgett


<Past Issue Next>
  Poems by Members

 Missouri State Poetry Society

Summer Contest

Spare Mule Online

National Federation of State Poetry Societies
Strophes Online


This form suggested for us to write by Pat Laster is an old Persian form (c.1000) that has changed greatly with time.  Originally it was a love poem or a drinking poem of five to twelve couplets rhyming aa ba ca da ea etc.  Hundreds of Persian poets have written and sung this musical form.  Gradually the themes became more philosophical and mystical.  Each couplet can stand alone like a proverb.  There is no story, but each couplet adds a bit more to the main theme.  Originally the poet included his name in the last couplet.  In contemporary ghazals there is no rhyme and the poet's name is not included in the last couplet.  Write a ghazal, either the old or the contemporary form.  Usually a poet begins by looking around him/her and writes a truth he/she sees or feels.  Two lines, then a break, two more lines, another break, and so on, with each line a complete sense unit, but somehow related to other lines.  Visit this site to see examples:


Click Workshop and do some of the lessons there. 


Remember to read Spare Mule Online and Strophes Online. You can keep up with members who get newsletters by mail by remembering to read them on the Net. The April 1 issues of Spare Mule Online
and Strophes Online will soon be  available to you. 


Begin by visiting these sites for brief bios:

For poems by Goldbarth, visit

Hear him read one of his poems at this site which is slow to come up:

A brief critical comment appears here:

Additional criticism about Goldbarth and by him may be found at these sites

Buy a book of Albert Goldbarth's poetry at



A ghazal
Pat Laster

I scavenge every source for writing prompts;
the daily news provides exciting prompts.

I list descriptive surnames, aged folks,
to use in stories—plot-uniting prompts. 

First names, unusual, go down in ink,
along with asterisks spotlighting prompts. 

New places, cemeteries I include;
who knows when I might need foresighting prompts?

I never know about the ‘30s dates—
they might enmesh to scene-igniting prompts.

One chapter’s based entirely on surnames.
Dear Abby’s guilty, too: inciting prompts! 

Headlines and captions, quotes—none are exempt.
(No one’s been sued for copywriting prompts.)

So many journals holding so much gold—
With writing time, I mine inviting prompts.

And this, this Star Magnolia tells it all:
Success results from expediting prompts.

(Tastier tomato gene discovered at UF)
Valerie Esker

According to a UF research team,
inhibiting hormone, ethylene,
when applied to an obedient tomato gene,
dispels the tasteless unripe green
and make riches heretofore, unseen;
. . . may work on many kinds of bean!
(Researchers will no doubt, honors, glean.)

Judy Young

Evening lends a peaceful mood
Which seems to expedite
Calming thoughts and attitudes
In this serene interlude
As time exchanges day for night.

Birds light and settle in the trees
Finishing their evening psalm
As leaves still in the failing breeze
Which reflects diminished energies
As time exchanges busy for calm.

With brilliance the skies explode
In a horizontal arc
A dramatic episode
Before its colors erode
As time exchanges light for dark.

Slanting rays through leaves settle
Like diamonds on the pond they fall
Illuminating the lily's petals
In a fiery show ‘ere day dwindles
As time exchanges bright for dull.

Fading light shines round the trees
Leaving shadows cast far
That stretch and fade in slow degrees
Until they lose identities
As time exchanges sun for stars.

Velvet Fackeldey

You make me laugh
with your fancy talk.
You hide behind those big words
and long sentences
and try to confuse me.
But I see through your noises
to the evasion,
the uncertainty,
the bluff.
Don't make me laugh.

Phyllis Moutray

Sometimes, it's only
the little things that matter--
like the fireflies' flicker,
those low-hung stars
which lit our summer love
with afterlight's last light 
on quarter-moons nights.


Harding Stedler
Like Florida
in the aftermath
of Hurricane Charley,
all that remains of your life
is the devastation left
after the passing eye
of the storm:
rubble, debris, and death itself.

I see the trees downed,
roofs blown away,
lives destroyed.
The only avenue left
is to begin anew.
And so you must,
starting at ground-zero.

When the time comes
you are free
to walk through the bars
and into freedom,
you will be years older
than you are today,
and there will be
no semblance of what was:
no home, no husband,
no friends, no job.
The task will be one
of digging out
in search of remnants
from life before the storm
and carving a new trail
late in life.

A Ghazal
Jean Even

Here’s to freedom, my friends,
May it take us to the end.  

From war to peace I say,
“Today will come to an end.”

O how the hour comes
And the minutes too soon end?

Crossing over the road
May take you to a dead end.

It’s a dizzy feeling
Turning circles that won’t end.

All the trees reach up high,
Their branches know where to end.

Rolling balls can not stop
A block brings it to an end.

I know not the way, Lord,
How my life will meet it’s end.

All I know is God’s love
And His grace will never end.

As a friend, Jean even said,
“Find Christ and live to the end.”


A ghazal
Nancy Powell

I hear a distant calling–
Muted–still it’s calling.

A wolf walks the steep hills,
To his mate he’s calling.

The restless river flows,
Small streams it’s calling.

Geese float into dark clouds,
Goodbyes they are calling.

Winds threaten winter time,
Summer heeds the calling.

Nature’s sounds are calling–
Or is it me God’s calling?

A modified ghazal
Tom Padgett

In religion we often embrace the hyper-Levitical.
Our opinions are stronger only in matters that are political.

Ideally, we diligently work at loving others.
Meanwhile, we plot against our opposite-party brothers.

We attentively listen to all within our reach.
For those who agree with us we believe in freedom of speech.

On Sundays we uphold the Ten Commandments without quarrel.
On Mondays we excuse our party leaders though blatantly immoral.

As legalists we adhere to strict Biblical interpretation.
However, we live by standards of our party’s own creation.

Like graceful gazelles we soar through religion’s holy loops.
Like flightless dodos we brood a nest of political troops.

Tania Gray

The heat is blasting our community.
A holocaust on gardens, trees, and lawns,
it makes pedestrians delirious
when forced to leave a sanctuary cool.
I hang my laundry in a holocaust,
delirious, while air conditioners
heat up the gardens in community.
A robin finds a sanctuary
when I spray the hose
and wet the garden down.
My neighbor's sanctuary's filled with books;
her weeds commune delirious
because she let her garden burn up in holocaust

Pat Laster

the dogwood branch’s
extra large bloom
white-breasted cat

the first strawberry
so sweet
it hurts my jaw

young calico
swatting pansy’s roving eye

tulips tightly closed
after last night’s thunderstorm
today, still cloudy

daylight savings time
need alarm for body clock
ticking in slumber

Nancy Powell

Standing firm, so strong
and tall and bold,
you are my promised savior
and you are my jailor.
Past your burly frame
laughter seeps in
testing my fears;
voices call from beyond.
Once I was out there
skipping as children do,
opening my arms to love,
chancing ridicule.
Each time I try
to slide past,
slip through a crack,
voices turn me.
Maybe tomorrow
when sun shines bright
and laughter is soft--.
maybe I’ll try again.

Bev Conklin

Slowly falling in eerie silence,
through darkness to what lies below.
I wonder what it's feeling,
this cold and lovely flake of snow.
Did it recognize the moment it changed
from mist of moisture to a solid flake?
Does it have a sense of falling,
or is this merely a journey to make?   
Does it wonder what will happen
when it lands, at last, on earth?
Can it conceive how short the time
between its death and its birth?
How will it die, this unique little flake?
In a wondering child's mouth opened wide?
Or will it be part of an avalanche
on a last, wild, and wonderful slide?
It doesn't matter, my one-of-a-kind friend.
The journey's the thing for you and for me.
We'll meet again; and next time, let's choose
.to be neighboring waves, in a sparkling sea.

Mark Tappmeyer

Were you shocked to find
a Pentatomidae, the stinkbug kind,
winging too freight-train fast
to hold the curving gauge on past

your chiming mouth,
you’d stop censuring your wife for turning south
and critiquing her navigation.
Stinkbugs, good for little else, bring reconciliation.

Preferably, if you must choose an oral guest
from all insecta a bug that’s best,
your pick might be a river gnat
that rarely packs pesky fat

or you might try a skeeter, thin as light.
But never such a vile, robust bug that sticks its face
where your acerbic tongue might
put your wife into her place.

Once you’ve spit though, expectoration underscores
that you’ve mended your intention,
you’ll confess that you too, not her alone, must see more
and pay it rapt attention.