THIRTY-SEVEN CENTS
Vol. 6, No. 4      An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society     April 2007

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DO YOU HAVE TIME FOR SPRING?

Throughout our terrible winter, many of us postponed work, promising to catch up when spring arrived.  Now spring is here, and suddenly we find ourselves almost too busy to enjoy it.  I especially appreciate the flowering trees: fruit trees, red buds, dogwoods, magnolias.  It really doesn't take much time or effort to drive to work or to shop a different way each day to see what beauty is offered us if we take the time to enjoy it.  Of course, we hope to capture this beauty in our poetry.  Maybe we need to try something fresh--another form or subject.  Maybe we need to be challenged by another poet, such as the poets we have chosen for "Poet of the Month."  Every member of Thirty-Seven Cents has online opportunities to buy books mailed to his or her door.  Treat yourself to a new book of poetry.  The Best American Poetry of 2006, available online or in bookstores now, was edited by Billy Collins.  See what 75 poems he chose and read his introduction to find out why he chose them. Perhaps it is time to enter a contest or two.  Our MSPS summer contest is currently attracting entries.  Details are given immediately below this editorial.  And don't forget that you have a page to fill in Grist, the MSPS state anthology.   Details for the anthology are given at www.nfsps.com/mo/anth.htm.  Several members of Thirty-Seven Cents will attend the Lucidity Retreat in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  We always get our engines revved up from this time of fellowship and work.  Whatever it takes you to get started, get to it.  Make sure you don't postpone it until winter.--  Tom Padgett

 

CONTENTS:

Past Issue Next
       
Poems by Members
         
Workshop

Missouri State Poetry Society

Summer Contest

Spare Mule Online

National Federation of State Poetry Societies
 
Strophes Online


POETRY IN THE NEWS

James Fenton's Selected Poems is here reviewed by Stephen Metcalf.  Does this collection prove Metcalf's position that Fenton is Britain's best poet today?  Read the condensed review here.

Thomas Hardy is the subject of a very well-received biography just published by Claire Tomalin (formerly praised for her excellent book on Samuel Pepys).  Read highlights of this new work here.

John Barr, president of the foundation administering the largest gift of money ever given to support poetry, gives a progress report in this letter to subscribers of Poetry.  See how the money is being spent by clicking here.

David Kirby reviews Galway Kinnell's new collection with words of high praise and teaches us a bit about long-lined poets and short-lined poets here.

Have you visited the website of  the Rogue Poetry Review?  Its handsome first issue contains work by five members of MSPS.  Congratulations are due to Michael Wells, the editor.  See it here.

Charles Wright calls himself a "God-fearing agnostic," according to Joel Brouwer in a review of Wright's new collection Scar Tissue.  Read a summary of the review
here.

How important is poetry in your life?  Would you like to know how several Americans responded to this question in a recent poll?  Click
here to see.

Click Back on your toolbar to return  here after finishing the column.
 

HAVE YOU VISITED THE WORKSHOP LATELY?

Click Workshop and do some of the lessons there.
If you have an idea for a new lesson, send it along. 

HAVE YOU READ YOUR ONLINE NEWSLETTERS?

Read Spare Mule Online and Strophes Online available to you by clicking the underlined titles.

HAVE YOU ENTERED A MSPS CONTEST RECENTLY?
Our new state president, Dale Ernst, is encouraging us to enter the MSPS Summer Contest

HAVE YOU SEEN THE BULLETIN BOARD LATELY? 

Visit our MSPS Bulletin Board for news of events and contests in our area.

AMERICAN LIFE IN POETRY

Ted Kooser, former U. S. Poet Laureate, in response to an interviewer for National Public Radio, stated that his "project" as laureate was to establish a weekly column featuring contemporary American poems supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska.  This column appears in on-line publications (such as Thirty-Seven Cents) as well as hard-copy newspapers.  Poets are asked to contact their local newspaper editors to inform them that such a column is available free to them and to relieve the editors by explaining that all of the poems that will appear week by week are accessible, not obscure poems. 


American Life in Poetry: Column 101
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006

Those big cherry flavored wax lips that my friends and I used to buy when I was a boy, well, how could I resist this poem by Cynthia Rylant of Oregon?

WAX LIPS
Cynthia Rylant


Todd's Hardware was dust and a monkey--
a real one, on the second floor--
and Mrs. Todd there behind the glass cases.
We stepped over buckets of nails and lawnmowers
to get to the candy counter in the back,
and pointed at the red wax lips,
and Mary Janes,
and straws full of purple sugar.
Said goodbye to Mrs. Todd, she white-faced and silent,
and walked the streets of Beaver,
our teeth sunk hard in the wax,
and big red lips worth kissing.






American Life in Poetry: Column 103
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006


One of the ways a poet makes art from his or her experience is through the use of unique, specific and particular detail. This poem by Rick Snyder thrives on such details. It's not just baseball caps, it's Tasmanian Devil caps; it's not just music on the intercom, it's James Taylor. And Snyder's poem also caught my interest with the humor of its flat, sardonic tone.

HOW ARE YOU DOING?
Rick Snyder


As much as you deserve it,
I wouldn't wish this
Sunday night on you--
not the Osco at closing,
not its two tired women
and shaky security guard,
not its bin of flip-flops
and Tasmanian Devil
baseball caps,
not its freshly mopped floors
and fluorescent lights,
not its endless James Taylor
song on the intercom,
and not its last pint of
chocolate mint ice cream,
which I carried
down Milwaukee Ave.
past a man in an unbuttoned
baseball shirt, who stepped
out of a shadow to whisper,
How are you doing?


 


American Life in Poetry: Column 102
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006

Those of us who have hunted morel mushrooms in the early spring have hunted indeed! The morel is among nature's most elusive species. Here Jane Whitledge of Minnesota captures the morel's mysterious ways.

MOREL MUSHROOMS
Jane Whitledge

Softly they come
thumbing up from
firm ground

protruding unharmed.
Easily crumbled
and yet

how they shouldered
the leaf and mold
aside, rising

unperturbed,
breathing obscurely,
still as stone.

By the slumping log,
by the dappled aspen,
they grow alone.

A dumb eloquence
seems their trade.
Like hooded monks

in a sacred wood
they say:
Tomorrow we are gone.


American Life in Poetry: Column 104
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006

At some time many of us will have to make a last visit to a house where aged parents lived out their days. Here Marge Saiser beautifully compresses one such farewell.

WHERE THEY LIVED
Marge Saiser


One last time I unlock
the house where they lived

and fought and tried again:
the air of the place,

carpet with its unchanging green,
chair with its back to me.

On the TV set, the Christmas cactus
has bloomed, has spilled its pink flowers

down its scraggly arms
and died, drying into paper.

At the round oak table,
ghosts lean toward one another,

almost a bow, before rising,
before ambling away.


POET OF THE MONTH: JAMES FENTON

Fenton's official website is at http://www.jamesfenton.com/

For a brief biographical note see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Fenton

Some criticism by and about Fenton can be found at http://www.jamesfenton.com/poetry/

Hear him reading "Jerusalem," a rhymed poem about the Holy Land today, at http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/04/20/home/poetread.html?_r=1&oref=slogin


Dana Gioia's excellent introduction to Fenton is found here: http://www.danagioia.net/essays/efenton.htm

A special treat is Fenton's master class in poetry, a weekly collection of articles written for a British newspaper, available on the Internet at http://books.guardian.co.uk/fentonserial/0,,728495,00.html

*Four Fenton poems can be found at http://www.poemhunter.com/james-fenton/

*Many of us will find offensive some of Fenton's poems, but since Stephen Metcalf, the reviewer for The New York Times Book Review, February 11, 2007, called Fenton "the major British poet of his generation," I thought we ought to have a look at him.  If you find some of his work offensive, skip it.


POEMS BY MEMBERS


 

WAITING IN THE KITCHEN
David VanBebber, Jr.

He rests the weathered deck on the table
And his stiff aged hand rises from the cards
bringing a cigarette to rest comfortably between his lips.

Gradually, he pulls the smoke deep into his lungs
as if every ounce were necessary for sustaining life.

The priceless smoke bellows out,
ďOne more dragĒ
as the ashes near his fingers.

He embraces the fleeting pleasure,
repeating what heís done a million times.

With his thumb he stubs the slow-burning tobacco.
Smoke has clouded the kitchen.

Leaning back he resumes the long task,
the solitary game.

Another day alone again, waiting, dreaming,
and remembering what used to be.
 

SPRING AGAIN
Velvet Fackeldey

The bright sun shouts his song
and the grass answers gaily.
I shrug off my shelter
to join the nature noise
and laugh with life and joy.
 

JUNK DRAWER
Helen Bulger

Sheets of loose leaf paper, embraced
by three steel posts, straining
for the soft graphite pencil resting
in the recess of the writerís hand.

Paper clips, coiling
around multiple drafts of a list poem
rediscovered.
Red, yellow, blue, green push
pinned to the mosaic cork squares,
glued to the stained white-washed walls.

Chicken scratching commences
consummating
the unwritten wordís desire to exist
beyond the intellect of the writerís will.


OF DAYS TO COME
Josh Lawrence

Come, my new found friend,
sit with me and play
18 holes of golf,
or 27, or 35;
or perhaps as many
as it takes to know you fully.
Itís what I long for.
Your hair is up,
and makeup
carefully applied.
But neither of us knows why.
Your sister suggested it,
but we both know
itís needless.
Your beauty radiates
from your eyes and fills my
soul with wonder.
Each time you
glance my way;
your laugh, charming
my senses. Youíll take me
where I need to go,
though time slips
through fingers
like grains of salt
in the hourglass. The hour
becomes the minute
that we must part
ways. Emotions
dying to express
themselves to you,
but fearful of
days gone by.
But before
I know it,
you embrace
and assure me
of days to come.


A SPRING BREAK HAIKU
Theresa Lochhaas

Milk flesh, now baked raw
Blisters seep, sweat trickles in
Sunburnt in Brazil
 

A SIGN
Pat Durmon

Again,
there they are:
like two sisters,
the new moon
with the old moon
in her arms.
How close
this sight
brings me
to my makeró
commonly
on nights
before a storm.


AS I WATCH
Bri Scott

It seems to me . . .
That
In just spring
The waves beat the shore
With less fury
Brave little flowers
Peek out of their
Hiding places
Sneaking little bits of color
Under the nose
Of the gray sky
Until
Summerís flood of light
Cascades into consciousness
In a golden rush
The hand of Midas
Painted with a rainbow
Tiny drops of glass
Shatter against the light,
Releasing dreams and hope
Catch them in your hand
Where they glow like the
Fireflies that die if you
Try to keep them in a jar
Let go and watch them fly
Where
Autumn celebrates wisdom
The hands of time
Turn in on themselves
To discuss what they have seen
Their memories flare
Into fireworks that silently
Explode from the trees
Until all their lights
Fade into darkness
But
In the dead of winter
There shines a single light.
Frail, delicate, and indestructible
It dips and spins
Setting aflame cold, dead branches
And hard, frozen hearts
They melt and burn
Exposing fresh green chances
And then
It seems to me . . .


MINE EYES HAVE SEEN
Jean Even


God be merciful to me a sinner.
Let me live in Your peace
Under the shadow of Your wings.
My eyes have seen Your salvation,
And I want Your kingdom to be my nation.

All things are possible with You, Lord.
Deliver me not into the hands of the heathens
Lest I be destroyed and be ground into powder.
Build in me Your temple of prayer
That canít be torn down, not even one hair.

Let me drink the fruit of your vine
And eat the meat of Your bread,
A sure foundation of saving grace
That canít be sifted not even as wheat.
Though I be poor, I have Your peace.
 

LEGACIES
Pat Laster

I
carry
the wine rack,
a sonís Christmas
gift, into my new
home, formerly Momís. She
would never allow liquor
in the house. Later, in winters,
Dad hid his Jim Beam in the sofa.
Mom pretended to be none the wiser.


UNTITLED
Jennifer Smith

       Ornamental
         pear tree
    carrying bouquets
    of white blossoms
     on every branch
        stands tall
    before the home
  like a beautiful virgin
        adorned
   for her bridegroom

              //     

 

 

 

 


PETROGLYPHS NEAR ALBUQUERQUE
Judy Young

When your shadow touches rock
Where an ancient shadowís carved,
A sacred kindred spirit
Is released into your soul

And you know your feet are trodding
Where steps forever walked,
With the same heat on your shoulders
Of ten thousand years before.

You want to grasp the moment,
To touch what canít be held,
To live with ancient eyes
And to hear with timeless ears.

Thereís a thirst for more than water,
An eternal saddened song,
That winds through the chamiza
And leaves its shadow with the dove.

So you think of shapes and shadows
While the sand shifts underfoot
And the locustís song is carried
By a time forgotten wind.


WORLD REDEFINED?
Phyllis Moutray

If the only thing
that's the end of the world
is the end of the world itself;

Then, why does my self
feel like ending itself
just because your self left?

Is it that my world
begins and ends with yourself?

Or, was it my "sense of self"
that just left?

Where in the world
could I have lost my self?
 

BONDAGE BY CANINE
Harding Stedler

Dogs, as masters of their owners,
walk them on blacktopped trails
through woods and hem the lake
with cushioned footsteps alongside dusk.

Owners have no control;
dogs are out of control.

It is my lesson in slavery,
and not a pretty picture.
It is all about foolishness,
and stupidity at its best.

I learn things I have no desire to know:
about subservience, about control.
I want to pretend I did not see
the chains and shackles
or the meanness in the eyes of dogs
or despair in the eyes of those
who enable them.


THE ICEMAN LEAVETH
Tania Gray

This balmy breeze and morning sun are warm
enough to thaw my frozen bones. A swarm
of bees tickles the redbud's blossoms tight
the dogwood trees unfurl new petals white
the wind chimes strike in Key of G
the robins chirp in Key of Glee
O happy fuzzy lamb-days end of March
Like cats, we stretch, releasing winter starch.


APPOXIMATELY EVERY MORNING
Steve Penticuff

I stare
at two, then three
dress socks spread out: misfits.
Though instead of releasing ex-
pletives

into
the atmosphere,
I take comfort knowing
my odds for a match next pick get
better

each time
a new turncoat
mocks me. Ten's the limit,
at which point all bets on tantrums
are off.
 

ROSEATE SPOONBILL
Valerie Esker

What vision here confronts me,
What bright-hued apparition?
You feathered water-dweller
Who also lives in air,
I dream-like see your beauty,
You changed my disposition,
From dark and dingy cellar,
To flight-of-fancy fair!


INSULATION~ISOLATION
RIDING THE DC METRO
Diane Auser Stefan

Cleanó
it is cleaner than any other subway
Iíve been in
and easiest to navigate

but
people are crowded together
playing solo
wearing i-pod ear-things or
cell phones
each in their own world

eyes
donít meet any other eyes
doors open, people pushing, pulling
doors close


GLIMPSE OF THE PAST
Patsy Colter

She walked by me and I turned to stare.
Dressed in polyester slacks and flowered blouse,
as most elderly women her age.
Nothing to grab my attention, except
white unruly hair badly in need of attention,
shoulders slumped with a notable hump in back.
Tears came to my eyes and I almost rushed after her.
Watching her struggle to cross the busy street.
Someoneís Mother perhaps but not mine!
As I continue my walk I remembered,
my Mother is walking streets in Heaven.


CASHIER'S SAGA
Shana McCoy

Everyday I see them
walking through the
sliding glass doors.

Eyes sparkling with anticipation
as they hear the
beep,
beep,
beep,
of each scanned item.

I donít understand
the poetry they seek to find
as they watch us who have sold
our souls to the Big Man Sam in blue.

IN THE CLOSET
Henrietta Romman


I asked the Father in the night,
"Please ease my pain with thy sweet hand
And lift my burden, make it light."
I asked the Father in the night.

He said, "Be still, child, do not fight.
We're drawing close to Jesus-Land."
I asked the Father in the night,
"Please ease my pain with thy sweet hand.


APRIL RAIN
Gwen Eisenmann

Sweet, sweet to wake to sound of raindrops in the spring,
the oriole pipes his sad accented whistle-ing
into the muted music of the rain.
Or does the rain accompany the oriole's words?
Which is the water's voice and which the bird's?

Pipe softly, Oriole, there is a distant thrush
that sends his vibrant call to echo in the hush
of early morning's quiet April rain.
 

NIGHT SCENE
Laurence W. Thomas

Columns of trees poke through pallid snow
          into a night-orange sky
bloodied from the horizon by a distant city.

Oaks show no leaves shrouded in darkness,
only stark silhouettes like an old print with Pilgrims

trudging dutifully to worshipóno sound intrudes
         save the flakes filtering
soft white down upon branches and the expanse

of grass.  Nothing upsets the quiet balance
of forces at work extending to edges

where tiny lights reflect across the snow
          from distant houses, auguries
that solitude has limits and order is constrained.


X FACTOR
Mark Tappmeyer
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you" (Luke 1:35).

Mother Mary
full of grace
amply stocked
God's birthing place.

But this maid
of Rehoboam's
couldn't supply
Y chromosomes.
 

BAD TIMES IN THE THIRD GRADE
Tom Padgett

I learned my ďtimesĒ tables that year
from a pretty, blonde teacher whose career
was ending, for she made it clear
though all her times with pupils here
age eight times one were very dear,
she chose a man thirty times sincere--
their one times wedding day drew near.


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