Vol. 4, No.2      An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society     1 February 2005


After you wrote your first poems, those suffocating that cried to get out of you, those bubbling over like witches' stew, those you wrestled into acceptable shape on the mat (pick your own metaphor)--after you started calling yourself a poet, where did you go for ideas to add to your stock?  Most of us have written our parents into our work or perhaps our children and grandchildren.  Some of us keep trips vivid by taking them again in poems in which our travel journals unravel and wind out of private into public accounts.  Our Second Tuesday Poetry Society (three of whom are also Thirty-Seven Cents members) devotes part of our poetry meetings to discussing what we are reading, not just what poets we are reading but also what fictionists and non-fictionists we are reading, for we have found that ideas from our reading are frequently mirrored in what we write, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly.  I am currently reading Samuel Butler's The Way of All Flesh (1903), and just today I came upon a passage to share with you concerning the source of ideas:  "Nor yet did he know that ideas, no less than the living beings in whose minds they arise, must be begotten by parents not very unlike themselves, the most original still differing but slightly from the parents that have given rise to them.  Life is a fugue, everything must grow out of the subject and there must be nothing new.  Nor, again, did he see how hard it is to say where one idea ends and another begins, nor yet how closely this is paralleled in the difficulty of saying where a life begins or ends, or an action or indeed anything, there being a unity in spite of infinite multitude, and an infinite multitude in spite of unity.  He thought that ideas came into clever people's heads by a kind of spontaneous germination, without parentage in the thoughts of others or the course of observation; for as yet he believed in genius, of which he well knew that he had none, if it was the fine frenzied thing he thought it was."  To me as a writer, Butler's narrator tells us here that in seeking an idea to write about to start with what is at hand and go from there.  No need to search for and come up with something 100% new, completely different from the work of others. Instead, look at what has been done.  Find something you like (a poem, a subject, a form) and react to it. Your work will be your comment on what is close at hand, a taxi ride or so.  It will be your modification on the shared life we know.  No need to catch the space shuttle.
                                                                                                                    -- Tom Padgett


<Past Issue Next
  Poems by Members

 Missouri State Poetry Society

Winter Contest

Spare Mule Online

National Federation of State Poetry Societies
Strophes Online

Evidently some of you are quite busy and had little time to write a "pet" poem or a counted syllable poem.  Several, however, did find the time, and their work appears in the Poems by Members section below.  I will not add another form or subject this month to give others a chance to catch up.   Read the December and January issues to see the assignments.  If you have a subject or form you would like us to write, send it along.  I will run it or them in the March issue.


Click Workshop and do some of the lessons there.  Nancy Powell recently completed several lessons.  I will add a few of these per month.  Thanks, Nancy.


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 January 1 issue of
Spare Mule Online and Strophes Online are available to you. 


Remember February 15  is the deadline for our MSPS Winter Contest.  Details are given on the Winter Contest page at the state web site.  Click
Winter Contest.


Begin by visiting the Academy of American Poetry site for a bio and several poems:

Additional criticism and poetry may be found at these sites:

Buy a book of James Tate's poetry at




Syllable Count
Nancy Powell

Like mournful moans of cursed souls
this season's wild ghost
thrashes through damp foggy forest
flushing out those seeking refuge–
Winter howls and threatens.

While rabbits huddle in furry nests,
tell me these sounds are
southbound gusts, not hungry wolves
hunting a tasty evening meal–
Dawn seems an eternity.

Flames dance and cackle at the wind;
I snuggle under
warm couch blankets on plump pillows
feeling guilt and helpless remorse–
A child prays for morning.

Syllable Count
Tom Padgett

There must be many worse off than I, but it
is hard to think of them even
at Christmas time when I have so much to do
and must do it left-handedly.
Some south-paws are paid

more for being sinister (look it up), such
as big-league pitchers who make life
difficult for the dexterous (look it up).
Millionaires, either-handedly,
however, I find

it almost impossible to sorrow for,
even those who got that way by
downing steroids. Meanwhile, I take my pain pills,
stay home, and whine about my bro-
ken arm this Christmas.

Rhymed Syllable Count
Jean Even

Every man who has hope
Has dreams to succeed
Beyond the moment, to cope
With the ways of life
And not to be found to mope.

In the dreams of his heart
There is You, O Lord,
Guiding him to do his part
To succeed in life,
And You are there from the start.

What he shall do will be.
He’s looking to You
For lighted wisdom to see
His commitment through.
In his dreams hope is the key.


Harding Stedler

Inside and out,
spiders weave tomorrows
in silent dark.
Through webs,
I make my way
to morning Cappuccino
where I feel them
wrap my legs
with gossamer.
The morning news
is likewise wrapped,
marring the truth
of every headline.
I am mired in morning
well into the day,
trying to unwrap
those filaments of night
and feeding spiders
to hungry wasps.

Mark Tappmeyer

Watermelon man
tiptoes the vines
of his Sugar Babies
and Crimson Sweets
fattening in their August naps.
Here there he bends and eyes
and thumps then thumps again,
hoping for that sleepy dull reply.

Not unlike you, poet,
inching your way
through a patch of notion
and sense where
colors ripen like rinds
and fragrance sweetens
like blushing meats of melon.
You search your hand
over the plumpest and thump
the unopened, thump
for that secret resonation,
which you trust,
when you hear it, will treat you
to a spot of sugar.

Velvet Fackeldey

Here's winter once again, it's no surprise,
again I hate to see the cold approach.
It gets into my bones, I can't get warm.
I put on shirts and shirts and sweatshirts too;
so many clothes my arms will hardly bend
and still the goosebumps pop because I'm cold.
My toes and fingers stiff with frosty pain,
I cringe and shiver till my back kinks up.
My childhood spent backed up to hot wood stove,
I now stand over vents and wait for heat.
I jump in bed, curl up with quilts and quilts;
the weight so great it makes it hard to breathe.
I watch the sky for signs of spring to come
and think I won't be warm again till then.

Wesley D. Willis

Delta faded from the caring Millers,
A mother's laughter folding Colorado
into the laps of merciless billers.
The mountains whispered names in indigo,
The wind has moved their thoughts to dreams again.
A lad his eyes returning just to see
his Western home a scene in fading rain,
Behind the cars unwinding pedigree.
The family rolled their loaves of nerves behind
them giving life a turn into the night,
another state a better life in mind,
destined with the future's passing parasite.
I knew the Millers--worthy friends indeed,
Her husband Henry--mother's name is Ruth.
His muscles like a bull in ironweed,
Their son discarding agelessness from his youth,
The monumental fence that Henry built,
The twanging wires with resting birds in tune,
And Mrs. Miller's dinners make you wilt,
Her laughter touches hearts--her smiles a swoon.

Pet Poem
Tania Gray

A hinged square door,
access to the crawl space under the red house,
is open for summer ventilation.
A black hole invites sticking your head in.
My cocker sticks her head in,
her body following. I wait.
She doesn't come out,
so I go back in the house.
Later, she scratches at the front door.
Her head and ears are festooned
with a black lace mantilla—
traces of nothingness,
spider draperies from beyond the black hole.

Pet Poem
Nancy Powell

I don't want a cat,
I'm clumsy without that
wrapping around my feet.

He said it wouldn't wind.
Free Manx-- rare to find,
a deal you can't beat.

No kittens; it's a male,
a mouser to avail,
prefers life in the barn.

We give fur-bundles free
after litter number three,
and laugh at that yarn.

Manx deserves glory,
mostly true, his story.
"She" is a wonderful cat.

Pet Poem
Phyllis Moutray

The dog leaps free
of the pushed open door,
rivertown streets to
gleefully explore.
Hit by a Ford,
crawl home painful chore,
she regrets initial joy--
but the vet gets
gainful employ.

Syllable Count and Pet Poem
After B. Lancaster
Pat Laster

Squirrel dog,
far from being
an extravagance or
an indulgence, let Pap put meat
on the

when there wasn’t
any other; let him
feel like something other than a

Squirrels, way
back when, were rare
as turkeys, wild as minks;
had to be scared up by a good
hound dog.

Fried just
right in an iron
skillet by one who knew
how made you almost forget you
were poor.

Each new
dog was re-named
Jack for thirty, forty
years, generic—as with children
and squirrels.

Pet Poem
Bev Conklin

The first time we saw her
she was on the edge of a glacier
licking at her matted, shedding fur.

She turned to look at the two of us
as we quietly watched, making no fuss.
Her appearance was just plain ludicrous.

Bits and pieces of fur in a clump
adorned her sides, but not the white rump.
She really looked like quite a frump.

We saw her again in the next few days
when she came to the park towards night to graze.
She'd always pause and return our gaze.

"Patches" is what we called her then,
and to this day, I swear that when
I hear that word, I see "our" wild young elk, again.

Pet Poem
Tom Padgett

Everybody has a story no one will believe,
and mine's about a cat, my uncle's cat.
Before the Siamese invasion, Persians were
the breed to own. This story happened then.

I would have called her some exotic name,
like Reza or Shiraz, but Uncle Bill just named
her Pussy, this well-mannered cat who kept
herself quite clean and had compassion, too.

When Uncle Bill brought home a bulldog pup
that whined all night, she visited its bed
and took it by the nape to share her box
and "faucets" with the well-kept kittens there.

But Pussy had her flaw: although she learned
to use the commode, she would not take her turn.
So if you needed it and she did, too,
she dashed ahead to beat you to the seat.

Her shortcoming compounded with the years
until my uncle realized that Pussy,
though very smart, would never be polite--
and would never use the lever for the flush.

Valerie Esker

Remember when our love was new
like spring's first tender violet?
(Oh, we were young like spring then too!)
Remember when our love was new?
Like kindled fire our passion grew!
Love's cooler now, my sweet, and yet . . .
remember when our love was new
like spring's first tender violet?