THIRTY-SEVEN CENTS
Vol. 5, No. 8       An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society     August 2006

 

THE DOG DAYS OF AUGUST

It is amazing how rapidly the year is going by.  Just when you want to extend your summer vacation, you realize that school has started and there is no vacation time left.  I remember when the school year began in September so there were 30+ dog days to celebrate summer.  Now we have only  half as much time.  Students and teachers are well aware of this change, but even the non-academic today find their lives adjusted because school starts earlier.  For this and other reasons I am not challenging you to write new poems this month.  Find a hammock and enjoy what vacation you have left.  Just save yourself time to submit a poem here for September and contest entries for the MSPS Summer Contest to Jan Kroll.  Details are online at www.nfsps.com/mo/summer.          --  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

What is the latest book by the newest national poet laureate?  Read parts of Dan Chiasson's review of Donald Hall's White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems. 1946-2006 here.

Was Narcissus a poet?  How self-obsessed are poets by their nature?  Read this essay on Paul Zweig, who defended self-obsession twenty-five years before it became the cultural thing to do.

Have you discounted much contemporary poetry as too obscure to occupy your time?  How do you distinguish subtle poetry from difficult poetry?  Read this review of Elizabeth Bishop's latest book for help.

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, current 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 newspapers to inform them that such a column is available free to them and to relieve the editor by explaining that all of the poems that will appear week by week are accessible, not obscure poems. 

American Life in Poetry: Column 065
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006

Visiting a familiar and once dear place after a long absence can knock the words right out of us, and in this poem, Keith Althaus of Massachusetts observes this happening to someone else. I like the way he suggests, at the end, that it may take days before that silence heals over.

HOMECOMING
Keith Althaus

We drove through the gates
into a maze of little roads,
with speed bumps now,
that circled a pavilion,
field house, and ran past
the playing fields and wound
their way up to the cluster
of wood and stone buildings
of the school you went to once.
The green was returning to
the trees and lawn, the lake
was still half-lidded with ice
and blind in the middle.
There was nobody around
except a few cars in front
of the administration. It must
have been spring break.
We left without ever getting out
of the car. You were quiet
that night, the next day,
the way after heavy rain
that the earth cannot absorb,
the water lies in pools
in unexpected places for days
until it disappears.

American Life in Poetry: Column 067
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006

One in a series of elegies by New York City poet Catherine Barnett, this poem describes the first gathering after death has shaken a family to its core. The father tries to help his grown daughter forget for a moment that, a year earlier, her own two daughters were killed, that she is now alone. He's heartsick, realizing that drinking can only momentarily ease her pain, a pain and love that takes hold of the entire family. The children who join her in the field are silent guardians.


FAMILY REUNION
Catherine Barnett

My father scolded us all for refusing his liquor.
He kept buying tequila, and steak for the grill,
until finally we joined him, making margaritas,
cutting the fat off the bone.

When he saw how we drank, my sister
shredding the black labels into her glass
while his remaining grandchildren
dragged their thin bunk bed mattresses

first out to the lawn to play
then farther up the field to sleep next to her,
I think it was then he changed,
something in him died. He's gentler now,

quiet, losing weight though every night
he eats the same ice cream he always ate
only now he's not drinking,
he doesn't fall asleep with the spoon in his hand,

he waits for my mother to come lie down with him.
 

American Life in Poetry: Column 066
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006

Some of the most telling poetry being written in our country today has to do with the smallest and briefest of pleasures. Here Marie Howe of New York captures a magical moment: sitting in the shelter of a leafy tree with the rain falling all around.

THE COPPER BEECH
Marie Howe

Immense, entirely itself,
it wore that yard like a dress,

with limbs low enough for me to enter it
and climb the crooked ladder to where

I could lean against the trunk and practice being alone.
One day, I heard the sound before I saw it, rain fell
darkening the sidewalk.

Sitting close to the center, not very high in the branches,
I heard it hitting the high leaves, and I was happy,

watching it happen without it happening to me.


American Life in Poetry: Column 068
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006

Here is a marvelous little poem about a long marriage by the Kentucky poet, Wendell Berry. It's about a couple resigned to and comfortable with their routines. It is written in language as clear and simple as its subject. As close together as these two people have grown, as much alike as they have become, there is always the chance of the one, unpredictable, small moment of independence. Who will be the first to say goodnight?

THEY SIT TOGETHER ON THE PORCH
Wendell Berry

They sit together on the porch, the dark
Almost fallen, the house behind them dark.
Their supper done with, they have washed and dried
The dishes--only two plates now, two glasses,
Two knives, two forks, two spoons--small work for two.
She sits with her hands folded in her lap,
At rest. He smokes his pipe. They do not speak,
And when they speak at last it is to say
What each one knows the other knows. They have
One mind between them, now, that finally
For all its knowing will not exactly know
Which one goes first through the dark doorway, bidding
Goodnight, and which sits on a while alone.

POET OF THE MONTH: WALTER BARGEN

Walter Bargen is one of the two featured poets for the Missouri State Poetry Society convention in Lebanon on September 29-30 this year.  The other featured poet, John Leax, will be our poet of the month in September.

For Bargen's poem "Visual Appeal" visit http://www.valpo.edu/english/vpr/bargenvisual.html .

For a picture, biographical data, and an award winning poem ("Zoonotic") by Bargen, visit http://www.winningwriters.com/contests/war/2005/wa05_bargen.php

For his poem "In a These Times" see http://www.melicreview.com/current/walter%20bargen%20poem.htm

For a review by Gilbert Purdy of Bargen's long prose poem The Feast, see http://www.thepedestalmagazine.com/secure/content/cb.asp?cbid=3725

For an interview with Bargen about prose poetry, visit http://www.umkc.edu/bkmk/interviews/bargenw.html

For the poem "Conversation" and more biographical data, see http://www.thepedestalmagazine.com/Secure/content/cb.asp?cbid=2409

For a review of The Body of Water, three chapbooks collected in one volume, see
http://www.missourireview.com/index.php?genre=BookReviews&title=%3Ci%3EThe+Body+of+Water+%3C%2Fi%3Eby+Walter+Bargen

Buy a book of Bargen's poetry at  http://www.half.com/, or http://www.powells.com/,

or at http://www.amazon.com/   He will bring copies of three of his books for signing at the convention.


POEMS BY MEMBERS

HOW HOT?
A 3x3
Bev Conklin
 

Sweltering
is the word
for this day.

Fry eggs on
the sidewalk
if you like.

Better yetó
soft boil eggs
in the pool.
 

LEFTOVERS
Steven Penticuff

Every so often a book of poetry
is, I'd have to say (and you'd better not
judge my first collection this way), so
egg-suckin', rat-parade, skunk-bottom

rotten thru n' thru--especially
when fancy critics and other seals
clap and bark their approval so
obnoxiously--that you have to marvel

at the special knowledge that for each
book sailing into the trash a poet
somewhere in concert with a practiced
editor kept only the shiniest pieces

for the final, gift-to-the-world volume.
But you can only shine rusty tail pipe
so much, and a thoughtful soul asks
not in jest: just how awful were the rest?
 

AURORA AND THE WOODCHUCK
A pantoum and a dog
Gwen Eisenmann

She carried a prize
to give to her owner
with love in her eyes
she was a proud donor.

To give to her owner
a woodchuck so dead
she was a proud donor
though a dog's life she led.

A woodchuck so dead
she proudly displayed
though a dog's life she led
she was never dismayed.

She proudly displayed
with love in her eyes;
she was never dismayed.
She carried a prize.



NOT ALONE
A 3 by 3
Velvet Fackeldey

say goodbye
walk away
you do it

like you've had
many years
of practice

so I won't
think you hurt
only me


162 LOSERS
Ben Nielsen

My Royals, my Royals,
You have forsaken me.

You sign duds and draft duds--
Please stop drinking soap suds.

Oh Royals, oh Royals,

You make errors and walk men.
Hey, remember George Brett?

Stop bleeding, stop losing,
Or I will stop watching.

 
COME UNTO ME, LORD
Jean Even

Ho, ho, ho, come forth unto the Lord;
Rejoice in God even with a band.
We can dance in the winds of heaven
And glorify Him; weíre marked with three sevens.
We are delivered out of Babylon
And bound for glory in Zion.
God has touched us and left us dappled.
In His eyes we are His apples.
Sing and rejoice because He dwells within us.
In the midst is our Lord God; there is no fuss.
He is the love of our lives, this Lord of Hosts.
His portion is freely given, even the Holy Ghost.
Ho, ho, ho, rejoice in God. His measure is full
To the breadth and length; He is never dull.
We walk with Him and keep His charge.
His stone and branch are very large.
 

EXPLAIN TO THIS SUPREME GALACTIC
TRIBUNAL

Valerie Esker


Electric moonbeams
light our way
to fertile fields.
We move to music
from a pulsing star.
In an instant
our celestial bodies disappear
to other worlds more golden
than yours are.

Your childish rockets
alight like prey
on bended bough.
We swoop to catch them
in magnetic powered arc.
Answer to this cosmic jury now
why seven neon eons passed away
before you found the topside of
a quark.
 

TWO WISHES
Henrietta W. Romman

What does our God want man to do?
Exactly what does He command?

"Let go of self."  That is so true.
What more does God want man to do?

"Come unto Me for I made you.
Trust Me my child--just hold My Hand."

What does our God want man to do?
Exactly what does He command?


RAIN POEM
David Van Bebber, Jr.

Maybe itís the smell of rain.
The water falling from the sky it changes so much.
Without this smell children go hungry
And with too much the same occurs.
Buildings move and nations balance on its power.
Rain, the perfume of life.
The scent of death, coming or going.

 

HAIKU
Pat Durmon

How endless the field--
Queen Anne's Lace looks like snowflakes
To spite the hot sun.
 
                               

 


VISIT WORKSHOP FOR AN ASSIGNMENT.

 TopWorkshopIndex

 

 

 


A.M. ARMADILLO
Diane Auser Stefan

We see the slow armadillo
at the same instant,
very early, pre-sunrise,
as the dog and I walk the graveled hill.

Tony, our neighbor from Chicago,
says the only Ďdillo you see in daylight
is a rabid one--so we steer clear
of its waddling wake
as it scurries into the underbrush.

Except, itís almost daylight,
so maybe this armadillo is only half-mad--
an armored Jekyll and hard-sided Hyde.
 

CHARACTER VS. CHARACTERISTICS
Phyllis Moutray

Ambivalence and procrastination,
my inheritance,
will be mine forever more
until I cross to another shore

Shall I bequeath them
to my adored heirs
so they remember me
ambivalently--and late?


NOW ARRIVES THE NIGHT
A Shakespearean sonnet with an
acknowledgement to Robert Browing

Tania Gray

It isnít visible from my front porch:
the geese fly south and later back again,
at night the firefly signals with his torch,
by day the cardinal holds his domain--
it looks like lifeís proceeding normally.
But somewhere else the glaciers have shrunk,
the oceans have warmed up a whole degree,
the polar bears can scarcely find a hunk
of seal, and in Brazil they slash and burn.
The owner of the house across the street
cut down a maple tree. It was the turn
that tipped the scale to our complete defeat.
The snail is on his thorn but not for long,
for Pippa roams our town without a song.

 

SUMMER
Laurence Thomas

          Lhude sing
at last anticipated summer
time of sojourn and sunburn
lewdly pursuing bikini and short
necessary cash to realize
pipe and winter dreams
of well earned vacations.

          Sing too
reuniting families, summer camp
a backyard barbecue with
unwelcomed mosquitoes
and neighbors, chances to retreat
down dusty byways
with multitudes of others
escaping citiesí heat.

          Sing
ball parks, picnic sites, fair grounds
for illegitimate wishes
of expeditiously turning to
the normalcy of autumn.
          Sing cuccu!.

SOVEREIGNTY?
Mark Tappmeyer

ďAnd everyone went to his own
town to register.Ē Luke 2: 1

For Bethlehemís birth
where hay served as sheets
an empire was forced
to take to the streets:

Marcus left Naples
along the causeway;
Hector found Troas
by foot in a day;

Ajax to Athens
as Caesar had said,
but old grumps in Malta
refused to leave bed.


NO GRAVE

Judy Young
 

There will be no grave for me
Under a forgotten cedar tree
For someone to find a hundred years hence
With vines camouflaging the fence
That surrounds where my remains would be.

There will be no grave for me,
No mound of earth for someone to see
As he walks through the woods some summer day
Espying my stone along the way
From amongst the growth of a century.

There will be no grave for me,
No etching of who I used to be
Scratched on a stone marker, which rains and snows
Have worn down so it no longer shows,
That someone must rub to help him see.

There will be no grave for me,
Nothing of what was my destiny
For as my ashes to the winds are tossed,
My individuality will be lost,
And Iíll become part of all thatís around me.


FOR WANT OF MEDALS
Harding Stedler

As pale as whey,
old men with rattly bones
approach the finish line.
They gasp for air
amid silent prayers
to see the race complete.
Their wobbly legs,
like antique chairs,
are too unsafe to use.
Yet they forge on,
year after year,
mile after mile
with tears that drizzle
down their face
like raindrops descending
glass.

I ponder what drives them
in the cold of March
when bare tree limbs
shudder in the teens.


TWO STORIES, SAME PAPER, SAME DAY
After Mike Masterson

Pat Laster

I - One man
exults over
the birth of a third child;
dad of a soldier mourns the death
of his.

II - In our
human contacts,
it always boils down to
a lifelong string of hellos and
goodbyes.


MONDAY
A prose poem
Tom Padgett

    
     He rose decisively to greet the week. The mirror reflected his flaws and his not-bads. To the latter he grinned hello, then grimaced toward the parchment map face that documented miles along the well-worn highway he had traveled. Carefully, he engineered some road construction. Perhaps, he thought, the time had come for some more gracious metaphors. How about a chocolate-chip cookie where specks and chunks increase the value? To prove his selflessness, he tidied up the bed a bit, leaving just enough disarray for her to straighten and feel superior. Then the eagle spruced its plumage, arrogantly preening as it quit the crag that bore the nest. It was committed to flight. Or because he liked alliteration, the lordly lion left his lair. He closed the door with force. Regretfully, he marred his image of disciplined control when he got back out of his car to go after his keys, and then another time to get his glasses.