Vol. 2, No. 8            An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society        1 August 2003


When Gertrude Stein said, "A rose is a rose is a rose," she was called a "literary cubist" by her friends but widely ridiculed by less sympathetic critics, who found her guilty of carrying to extremes weird repetitions and seemingly nonsensical manipulations of words.  It may make a difference to some to hear the flowers in Lee Ann Russell's photograph above called Sweet Williams or phlox or vincas--no one is calling them roses--but whatever we call them, we agree that the beauty we see is the same.  Also, most of us agree with Shakespeare's Juliet, who said, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  The sight of the flower and the scent of the flower may register the same on our sensibilities, but as poets we are well aware that how we respond to beauty is personal or individual.  A successful poem may very well cause us to feel the way the poet felt, but the poem is not required to accomplish that task.  That is why we say of a book or a film (or, yes, a flower), "This experience means this to me even if it means that to you, or even to the author."  The most enjoyable part of a poetry reading for me is to hear a poet introduce his or her work with a background story that enriches the work  It is possible to misread a work--and I am guilty frequently--so when I see what the poet saw or smell what the poet smelled, I may or may not agree that the poem succeeded.  But isn't it fun to turn our lives into what we call art, even if our critics disagree that is is art indeed?  Next month at the state convention it will be our good fortune to hear two fine poets reveal what they have done with their lives in the poem-building process.  Meanwhile, keep at it, and maybe someday your critics may say. "Your poem is a poem is a poem."
                                                                                                                        --Tom Padgett, Editor


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            Strophes Online



Remember to read Spare Mule Online and Strophes Online at the addresses given on the Contents menu. You can keep up with members who get newsletters by mail by remembering to read them on the Net. The July 1 issue of Spare Mule Online is now available.  Strophes does not appear again until August 1 in order to give a complete list of winners of the NFSPS contests.


As a member of Thirty-Seven Cents, you are also a member of Missouri State Poetry Society and hence pay half-price fees to enter the summer and winter contests.  Also, remember that our contests are open to poems that have been published as well as new poems.  Every poem you have that is 40 or fewer lines can be entered in one of our five categories.  Get the other details about the contests by clicking on Summer Contest on the Contents menu above.


Click on Spare Mule Online in the Contents menu above to read details about the convention given in the latest issue of our state newsletter.


Our poet of the month is X. J. (Joe) Kennedy, one of two featured speakers at the Missouri State Poetry
Convention, September 26-27, in Springfield.  Perhaps the best place to be introduced to Kennedy is his home page at

A brief biography with links to some of Kennedy's poems is available at the Academy of American Poets page:

Another interesting site on Kennedy and his wife, Dorothy, also an author of note,  may be found at

A review written by MSPS President Tania Gray of Kennedy's most recent poetry collection  may be found in the current Spare Mule Online:

Other sites include
and this site which includes several of the most popular Kennedy poems like "Cross Ties" and "Nothing in Heaven Functions as It Ought":

Make plans now to hear Kennedy read from his work at our state convention.  Details about the convention are available at


(Todd Sukany)

Selfless givers of fabric--character.
Forgiving leadership for generations;
Given to perceived invisibility.

Defining the essence of essentials
As moments become pages of a book
Opening, guiding, sharing the path.

Too often left upon the shelf, yet the
Story and the reader have become one--
Characters scribed with love's enduring ink.


(Bev Conklin)

He looks so forlorn
just sitting there,
waiting for someone
to show him care.

I stop the car
to check for tags.
At my pat and touch,
his long tail wags.

Can't leave him here--
I take him home.
Checking tag nurnbers,
I telephone.

The owner's relieved--
his dog's just fine.
"I'll drive him home.
The pleasure's mine."

"There's a reward
I'm happy to pay--"
Turns out it won't
work just that way.

Back in the car--
drive in where I'm told.
Seeing the yard,
my thoughts turn cold.

I'his is the place
I picked him up.
I've just STOLEN
the poor man's pup!

(Jean Even)

Rise up and sing,
Sing for the joy of it.
It is music for the soul.

Souls sing for pleasure,
Pleasure to dangle notes,|
Notes to dance in your soul.

(Harding Stedler)

Silence has no rhythms.
It is the after-whey.
It follows me from room to room
where I drift companionless
in its presence.

Cloaked in a black shroud,
it replays my yesterdays,
and I relive the bustle
of busy times
before Death came unannounced.

Silence relishes the past
and feeds on memories
of when two were one . . .
and young,
and when babies danced
in diapers for the moon.

The only remnant of those days
is the deafening hush
of moonless nights,
when I seek cover
beneath comforting quilts
and daisies.

He love me.
He loves me not;
he loves me . . .

(Velvet Fackeldey)

Old men will dream dreams
of their immortality
through their sons
who are young and strong;
through their grandsons
who are exuberant with vitality.
Old men will dream dreams
of the beautiful young women they married
and believe in ceaseless charm
and a love that never ends.
Old men will dream dreams
of the difference they made
in a world of chaos,
and the triumphs of their lives.
Old men will dream dreams
of their spiritual fulfillment|
and the peace that comes with tolerance.
Old men will dream dreams
of their immortality.

(Gwen Eisenmann)

This apple
on the
little tree

newly bearing
yellow suns.
a maiden's blush|
she knows

her star-shaped
whirling heart
will scatter


(Pat Laster)

The splashy quilt of autumn leaves
on hardwood trees--
red maple, gum,
wild cherry, plum--
embossed with Monarchs, bumblebees,
green-tailed towhees--
an applique
of bird ballet--
is hanging pegged against the sky
to air blow dry.
Each year's debut
is deja vu.

(Tania Gray)

My paper dolls are kept inside a box;
I got them when I was of tender age,
so most of them are stars with golden locks
or characters of cartoon personage.

There's Betty Grable, Lucille Ball, Debbie Reynolds,
as well as Daisy Mae.
Little Lulu was a favorite.
I also have Prince Philip.

Sometimes I take them out and rearrange
their clothes and think of when I cut them out.
They kept me entertained when I was sick.
My paper dolls are kept inside a box.


(Wesley D. Willis)

I miss his precious smile and hugs so much,
His happy laughter and warm, gentle touch,
His soft voice saying "I love you, Mommy,"
Little hands on mine. Three-year old Tommy
Those precious nights curled in my arms asleep.
Now these nights, heartbroken, I sit and weep.
I see children hug and say. "I love you."
Saddened, I smile; tears appear like dew.
It hurts deep to go to work each day,
Tears gushing, as I park on the roadway,
Afraid of driving over the next hill.
Tommy's face on billboards makes me ill.
I know his face is there for a reason.
Small children lose their lives every season.
People, I ask you: please don't drink and drive.|
My precious baby would still be alive.

(Judy Young)

Through Tempest it was born,
A Chasm between a Bond,
A Trust that now is torn
Between two that once were fond.

While in that Fiery rage,
A Word that once one spoke
Was branded on Mindıs page
And can't now be revoked.

For Truth was in that word
And Truth is easily seen
For what It is when heard
And naught can intervene.

No Words can now recant
The words of Truth sliced deep,
For Truth cannot be Slant,
Nor seldom is it Cheap.

(Tom Padgett)

The blowzy strumpet August rouses late|
and sips her coffee, reads her paper, hums
a listless tune replete with negligence.

She knows her carpet is beyond repair,
the furniture has faded from the sun,
her chores remain undone. She doesn't care.

Someone will come along with energy
to fix things up. She brushes off a fly
and turns a page. "Not me," she drawls, and waits.