THIRTY-SEVEN CENTS
Vol. 5, No. 2     An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society     February 2006
 


IS THERE STILL LIFE IN YOU?

When I selected this picture for the February issue, I imagined our poetry group being shut up inside by February weather, still enjoying life because of this still life, preserved by the artist's imagination, saved again by beauty.  As several of you have pointed out, however, January was so comfortably warm (at least here in the Ozarks) that we are now hoping for a February of similar temperature and temperament. The consensus seems to be that even if winter finally arrives, he will not stick around for long.  Spring will crowd him out, and we will be rejuvenated to write those poems we have dallied with since autumn, for spring resurrects even the most slothful of us.  But perhaps there is an indoor poem in you that you need to write now.  Ideas are everywhere in this issue.  The four poems selected by Ted Kooser, the poems by our poet of the month (Dan Chiasson), and the poems by our members--surely something in you responds to one of these triggers.  Is there still life in you?  Prove it.
                                                                                                                                     --  Tom Padgett


CONTENTS:

Past Issue Next
       
Poems by Members
         
Workshop

Missouri State Poetry Society

Winter Contest

Spare Mule Online

National Federation of State Poetry Societies
 
Strophes Online

 

NEW FEATURE: POETRY NEWS

Click News to see if this new column appeals to you.  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 Winter 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 039
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Many of us keep journals, but while doing so few of us pay much attention to selecting the most precise words, to determining their most effective order, to working with effective pauses and breath-like pacing, to presenting an engaging impression of a single, unique day. This poem by Nebraskan Nancy McCleery is a good example of one poet's carefully recorded observations.

DECEMBER NOTES

The backyard is one white sheet
Where we read in the bird tracks

The songs we hear. Delicate
Sparrow, heavier cardinal,

Filigree threads of chickadee.
And wing patterns where one flew

Low, then up and away, gone
To the woods but calling out

Clearly its bright epigrams.
More snow promised for tonight.

The postal van is stalled
In the road again, the mail

Will be late and any good news
Will reach us by hand.

American Life in Poetry: Column 041
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Those photos in family albums, what do they show us about the lives of people, and what don't they tell? What are they holding back? Here Diane Thiel, who teaches in New Mexico, peers into one of those pictures.

FAMILY ALBUM

I like old photographs of relatives
in black and white, their faces set like stone.
They knew this was serious business.
My favorite album is the one that's filled
with people none of us can even name.

I find the recent ones more difficult.
I wonder, now, if anyone remembers
how fiercely I refused even to stand
beside him for this picture--how I shrank
back from his hand and found the other side.

Forever now, for future family,
we will be framed like this, although no one
will wonder at the way we are arranged.
No one will ever wonder, since we'll be
forever smiling there--our mouths all teeth.
 

American Life in Poetry: Column 040
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Arizonan Alberto Rios probably observed this shamel ash often, its year-round green leaves never changing. On this particular day, however, he recognizes a difference--a yellow leaf. In doing so he offers us a glimpse of how something small yet unexpected may stay with us, perhaps even become a secret pleasure.

A YELLOW LEAF

A yellow leaf in the branches
Of a shamel ash
In the front yard;
I see it, a yellow leaf
Among so many.
Nothing distinguishes it,
Nothing striking, striped, stripped,
Strident, nothing
More than its yellow
On this day,
Which is enough, which makes me
Think of it later in the day,
Remember it in conversation
With a friend,
Though I do not mention it--
A yellow leaf on a shamel ash
On a clear day
In an Arizona winter,
A January like so many.


 

American Life in Poetry: Column 042
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Here is a poem by David Bengtson, a Minnesotan, about the simple pleasure of walking through deep snow to the mailbox to see what's arrived. But, of course, the pleasure is not only in picking up the mail with its surprises, but in the complete experience--being fully alive to the clean cold air and the sound of the wind around the mailbox door.

WHAT CALLS US

In winter, it is what calls us
from seclusion, through endless snow
to the end of a long driveway
where, we hope, it waits--
this letter, this package, this
singing of wind around an opened door.


 

POET OF THE MONTH: DAN CHIASSON

Find two poems of Chiasson at http://www.pshares.org/issues/article.cfm?prmArticleID=7329

Find a review of The Afterlife of Objects, a 2002 book by Chiasson at http://www.cmsu.edu/englphil/BarotChiasson.html.


Find one poem by Chiasson at http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/103781.html

Find a brief biographical blurb about Chiasson and a review of Natural History, Chiasson's second collection.at http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/catalog/results2.pperl?authorid=67498

Find another poem by Chiasson at  http://www.bu.edu/agni/poetry/print/2002/56-chiasson.html

Buy a book of Chiasson's poetry at

http://www.booksense.com/index.jsp?affiliateId=AmerPoets

http://www.powells.com/

http://www.amazon.com/


POEMS BY MEMBERS

JANUARY SUMMER 2006
Nancy Powell

Trees shake, stark and shivering,
though this wicked wind is warm.
Pink tinted sage waves quivering;
inky smoke signs malefic harm.
Cattle stampede to the creek bank,
where narrow trickles weakly ramble,
mud squishes underfoot dark and rank,
smaller animals shriek and scramble.
Sirens scream, volunteers rush,
a community comes together,
mortals against flaming brush.
Come snow; quench this weather.
Snow birds escaped to north land.
Killdeer where will you nest?
Will spring lend a healing hand?
Is God putting us to the test?
I remember wide-eyed children,
parents surveying parched fields
equating nature with purges for sin,
my silent prayers for angel shields.
When nature wields her hellish fury,
is it encouraged by Satans sword?
Assuredly, God will chair our last jury
dividing grace and justice with word.


MUSIC ON THE WIND
Jean Even

Hallowed is thy name, O Lord,
And worthy of my praise.
Thy glory is my salvation;
Joy is my hope,
my protection in frays.
Unto You, Jesus above,
Ill make a joyful noise
Of an operatic array,
Bold masterstrokes
In classic ways to hoist.
Lift up, O voice, with singing,
Harmony to resound
As bells echoing in the land.
Ring out, O heart,
In tones that will astound.
You bring joy to my heart, Lord,
In ways that transcend.
Your peace is with me in the land,
Consecrated
Like music on the wind.


COME, KINDEST PRESENCE
Valerie Esker

Come, Kindest Presence,
Here to this table.
Hover close, over gleanings,
over heads bent in trust.

Come, Living Essence,
come ever nearer.
Inspire with sweet breathings,
hearts fashioned from dust.

From newly-filled spirits
springs joyous thanksgivings,
quietly praising
your good, as we must.

CARILLON
Velvet Fackeldey

The bell rings,
calling me.
Yes, I am grey and bent,
but I will not go.
Not yet.
I must say
my love aloud
to those I have ignored.
Don't tell me
my time has passed.
I will not go.
The bell rings,
calling me.
 

A STORY IN FOUR-LETTER WORDS
Phyllis Moutray

The power of four-letter words--
with their extremes of
love and hate,
their past and present tenses
of feel and felt
and hold and held,
their temperature differences
of cold and warm
and cool and heat--
reminds me how
I loved you till
I hated you.
There wasn't much
for us in between.
We were warm until
we were ice-cold.
With you I felt good
until I could
only feel pain.

Thinking of you brings tears
to my eyes again.
Is it truly better
"to have loved and lost?"


A FRIEND INDEED
Henrietta Romman


You are, O Lord, my FAITHFUL FRIEND,
Great mercies You prepared for me.

I know You said, "Wait for the end."
You are, O Lord, my FAITHFUL FRIEND.

Spread out Your hand, O Father, bend
Your head, incline Your eyes to me.

You are, O lord, my FAITHFUL FRIEND
Great mercies You prepared for me.
 

DEATH
Julie Garrett


Why go on with this life
When all it does is bring me strife?
The ups and downs go all around.
I wish to be put in the ground.
The pain I suffered as a child
Makes me now, oh so wild.

I put on my painted smile
And play the role for a while.
I set my self at a pace,
For no one sees my true face.
The pressures building up you see
I wish to bring death to me.

Who would guess the one I cherish
Is the one who made me perish?
The cruel world does nothing but judge;
Perhaps with them I hold a grudge.
But now it's time to end this day--
Up to heaven I make my way.

The many pills go down my throat,
I know I have no reason to gloat.
But here I lie on my bed,
Hoping soon I will be dead.



 

 


THE CAT AT NIGHT
Pat Laster

the cat, late at night
running the length of the house
and back again

between the cat's ears
calico colors change shapes
with her yawn

mid-February
calico in the sunshine
a living doorstop

the calico
bringing winter inside
in her coat

in the sudden light
the old couch brighter
with the cat on it


FLAMING TONGUES
Harding Stedler


The stench of burning squirrel
all but drove the firefighters out
as they battled the hillside blaze
on Oliver Mountain.
Dead trees crackled and popped
and toppled into crisscross piles
like garden wigwams.
Deer vaulted from the underbrush
in search of safety
along the banks of Turtle Creek.

December's fast forward
of springtime brush fires
made the scene surreal.
Rocky crags that overlooked the valley
swallowed the orange flames
that begged for more to eat.


FLIGHT OF SNOW GEESE
Judy Young

Streamers move
across the sky in a wavering V, so high
they are barely perceptible, gray
against gray, an undulating soft lead etching against
a winter

cloud cover.
Hundreds of individuals form this thin thread
pulled along by an invisible
needle, basting in and out of soft fleece. They are so high
the rushing

beat of their
wings and the cacophony of their voices make
no sound and announce no presence to
hundreds of individuals threading their way through cars.
The silent

existence
is noted only by one who, standing in the
middle of a crowded parking lot,
chances to look skyward, wondering whether there is snow
in the air.
 

CROWD CONTROL
"There will be no end of disrespect and discord."  Esther 1:18
Mark Tappmeyer

The sweep
of expectant male faces
can drive kings even
in their vaulted places
to refrain the scepter
from a maiden form
who finds herself
treading lightly
on the palace floor
and only yesterday
had lost her way
along the porticos
looking for the
palace door.


POETRY READING AT ALLEY SPRING
Tania Gray

Sandy arranged the event,
reserved the time, collected chairs, assembled poets.
It was a quiet, hot afternoon.
We sat in a dim corner of the old mill,
hearing the spring in its untiring mad rush
by the open back door.
We listened to each other's passions,
feelings captured in efficient pace and cadence,
starting timid, growing stronger.
Protected by solid wooden walls on two sides
with mill machinery our hypotenuse,
we spilled words on the floor
as water spilled through the sluice gates outside.
Roaring, tearing, driving to be free,
they fell and tumbled
to race and run from shade to sun,
spreading, swelling, and sliding farther,
out of sight of our restricted space
and away from our barricaded interior
out to the wider world.


POETRY BUSINESS
Tom Padgett

The voice on the phone, cocksure in tone,
informed us he had a plan
for groups like our own--and on went the drone
of a telemarketing man,

who early had found the best of sounds
to him were words he himself said.
His rates would astound, for companies around
charged more, as surely wed all read.

Of error-free frills like superb spelling skills,
he boasted high-and-mightily,
then said wed be thrilled when we saw the bills
for the State Pottery Society.


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