Vol. 7, No. 2    An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society   February  2008


When someone offers us something for nothing, we are immediately suspicious.  It can't be any good or they wouldn't be giving it away, we reason.  Well, here is the exception to the rule.  Once a year Poetry, a very fine poetry journal, perhaps the best of the lot, sends copies (along with discussion guidelines) of one issue of the journal for your poetry group to use at a future meeting.  All you have to do is order a batch.   You may well decide to subscribe to the publication, but the sample copies are yours whether you do or don't.  It is all part of National Poetry Month in April.  Below are the instructions to follow.         

Celebrate National Poetry Month

You supply the readers, we'll supply the poems!

A limited number of free copies of the April 2008 Translation Issue of Poetry will be given to discussion groups that request them by Feb. 20. You'll be able to consider the thought provoking commentary and poems—or simply read them aloud. All we ask in return is that you send us a brief account of your discussion.

Requests for free issues must be received by Feb. 20. Include your name, the number of copies you need, and a street address for shipping. (PO boxes will not be accepted.) Only one address per reading group please. Due to the cost of shipping and handling, each group is limited to ten free copies. Additional copies are available for $1.75. Issues will ship late-March.  Send requests to
                                                                                                                                                                         -- Tom Padgett


Issue Next 
Poems by Members

Missouri State Poetry Society

Winter Contest

Spare Mule Online

National Federation of State Poetry Societies
Strophes Online


The first volume of a two-volume biography of Ezra Pound, Ezra Pound: Poet I: The Young Genius 1885-1920, was published in England in November and in the U.S. in December by Oxford University Press.  The author, A. David Moody, is generally accepted as one of the most highly regarded authorities on Pound and his friend T. S. Eliot, founders of modernism in poetry in English.   For the most part, the book has garnered praise, sometimes even when the subject does not, which reminds me of a letter to the editor in the February 2008 issue of Poetry by James Matthew Wilson commenting on Pound: "The poet and critic was simply not as good as he pretended to be. . . . But even the name 'Pound' still captures my imagination; with many others, I perpetuate his centrality to modern poetry despite knowing full well it is mostly an empty center" (p. 443).

The five books of poetry contending for the National Book Award in Poetry for 2007 were The House on Boulevard Street by David Kirby, Magnetic Fields by Linda Gregerson, Old Heart: Poems by Stanley Plumly, Messenger: Selected and New Poems 1976-2005 by Ellen Bryant Voight, and Time and Materials by Robert Hass.  The winner named November 14 was Robert Hass.  The prize was $10,000 and a crystal sculpture.  See more on Hass, our Poet of the Month for December (click here).

Lucille Clifton of Columbia, Maryland, recently received the Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize of $100,000.  The annual prize established in 1986 is given to a U.S. poet in recognition of lifetime achievement.  The judges were Linda Bierds, W. S. Di Piero, and Christian Wiman.  For more information about Clifton, see Poet of the Month in November issue (click here).

Charles Simic is our nation's new poet laureate to succeed Donald Hall.   Simic's work is problematical since much of it is surrealism.  However, he has some poems everyone can appreciate.  The Week magazine for August 17, 2007, reprinted his short poem "Watermelons."  Here is the complete poem: "Green Buddhas / On the Fruitstand / We eat the smile / And spit out the teeth." 

Click Back on your toolbar to return here after finishing a news item.

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

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

Our state president is encouraging us to enter the MSPS
Winter Contest.

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



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 online 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 143

Here is Arizona poet Steve Orlen's lovely tribute to the great opera singer, Maria Callas. Most of us never saw her perform, or even knew what she looked like, but many of us listened to her on the radio or on our parents' record players, perhaps in a parlor like the one in this poem.

In the House of the Voice of Maria Callas

In the house of the voice of Maria Callas
We hear the baby's cries, and the after-supper
Rattle of silverware, and three clocks ticking
To different tunes, and ripe plums
Sleeping in their chipped bowl, and traffic sounds
Dissecting the avenues outside. We hear, like water
Pouring over time itself, the pure distillate arias
Of the numerous pampered queens who have reigned,
And the working girls who have suffered
The envious knives, and the breathless brides
With their horned helmets who have fallen in love
And gone crazy or fallen in love and died
On the grand stage at their appointed moments--
Who will sing of them now? Maria Callas is dead,
Although the full lips and the slanting eyes
And flared nostrils of her voice resurrect
Dramas we are able to imagine in this parlor
On evenings like this one, adding some color,
Adding some order. Of whom it was said:
She could imagine almost anything and give voice to it.

American Life in Poetry: Column 145

If one believes television commercials, insomnia, that thief of sleep, torments humans in ever-increasing numbers. Rynn Williams, a poet working in Brooklyn, New York, tries here to identify its causes and find a suitable remedy.


I try tearing paper into tiny, perfect squares--
they cut my fingers. Warm milk, perhaps,
stirred counter-clockwise in a cast iron pan--
but even then there's burning at the edges,
angry foam-hiss. I've been told
to put trumpet flowers under my pillow,
I do: stamen up, the old crone said.
But the pollen stains, and there are bees,
I swear, in those long yellow chambers, echoing,
the way the house does, mocking, with its longevity--
each rib creaking and bending where I'm likely to break--

I try floating out along the long O of lone,
to where it flattens to loss, and just stay there
disconnecting the dots of my night sky
as one would take apart a house made of sticks,
carefully, last addition to first,
like sheep leaping backward into their pens.

American Life in Poetry: Column 144

I'd guess you've heard it said that the reason we laugh when somebody slips on a banana peel is that we're happy that it didn't happen to us. That kind of happiness may be shameful, but many of us have known it. In the following poem, the California poet, Jackson Wheeler, tells us of a similar experience.

How Good Fortune Surprises Us

I was hauling freight
out of the Carolinas
up to the Cumberland Plateau
when, in Tennessee, I saw
from the freeway, at 2 am
a house ablaze.

Water from the firehoses arced
into luminescent rainbows.

The only sound, the dull roar of my truck
passing. I found myself strangely happy.
It was misfortune on that cold night
falling on someone's house,
but not mine
not mine.

American Life in Poetry: Column 146

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a new name for "shell shock," a term once applied only to military veterans. Here the poet Marvin Bell describes a group of these emotionally damaged soldiers, gathered together for breakfast. I'd guess that just about everybody who reads this column has known one or two men like these.

Veterans of the Seventies

His army jacket bore the white rectangle
of one who has torn off his name. He sat mute
at the round table where the trip-wire veterans
ate breakfast. They were foxhole buddies
who went stateside without leaving the war.
They had the look of men who held their breath
and now their tongues. What is to say
beyond that said by the fathers who bent lower
and lower as the war went on, spines curving
toward the ground on which sons sat sandbagged
with ammo belts enough to make fine lace
of enemy flesh and blood. Now these who survived,
who got back in cargo planes emptied at the front,
lived hiddenly in the woods behind fence wires
strung through tin cans. Better an alarm
than the constant nightmare of something moving
on its belly to make your skin crawl
with the sensory memory of foxhole living.


For an encyclopedia article on Pound, visit

For more biographical information, see   

For the Academy of American Poets page including several poems, go to

For more poems, visit


Laurence W. Thomas

Why would death by chocolate be an awful way to go

since getting there would be so decadent and tasty?

I would hope for such an ending to be slow

and ask that Death be neither proud nor hasty.


One might ask to die from hot and steamy passion,

expiring from a long embrace within a lover’s arms.

It might catch on and soon become the height of

to die from such a plethora of superabundant charms.


Death by caviar, champagne, and lobster in a bisque

would far supplant some less pleasant ways to go

like head-on crashes or of taking on the risk

of skiing down a mountain with no snow.


Is death from too much cash on hand a likely end?

Would maintaining large estates be hard to take

even at the immortal price of having to defend

the joy of eating while still having all the cake?


With my luck, I’ll no doubt not find an easy out

like lying down amongst a bed or roses.  My prayers

for death by chocolate or prime rib or on a yacht

will probably be answered by my falling down the


Dewell H. Byrd

Dawn scrolls back the night
invites the wee tail of a rainbow…
glory to these old, sleepy eyes.

The stirrings of morning
nudge night’s silence into activity
greeting the casual spring shower.

A squawk somewhere beyond
my window demands attention.
Squawk, squawk, panic.

Crows swagger with authority
on the humming power lines,
challenge a small intruder.

A pin-feathered robin hops about,
calls for its mother, ignores crows
that make false bombing runs.

A feral cat slinks along the gutter,
tail twitching.  The three crows
turn on the bigger prey.

Mother robin escorts her baby to flight.

Jeanetta Chrystie

Our Heavenly Father takes delight
In prayers from a heart contrite.
His joy in prayers of thankfulness
Extends our days and nights to bless.

For whether times are good or bad,
He wants to make our Spirit glad.
Yet, when a crisis rears its head,
Our Lord is with us--as He said.

So now, Dear Lord, I come to you
To ask that you will see me through
This problem that rends me apart,
And place Your peace within my heart.

Let not this new emergency
Become a stumbling block to me.
But rather, as my life’s purveyor,
Prepare me for emergency prayers.


Tania Gray

In Slavic fields, the planes touch down
at Belgrade’s airport, far from town.
They’ve cut the crap: no waste of time.
You don’t speak Serb? We’d pantomime,
but we speak English, don’t you frown.

We rolled our bags of sturdy brown;
nobody stopped us, no patdown.
We had a rendezvous sublime
          in Slavic fields.

Too soon departure time countdown,
we queued with students college-bound.
They took possessions of lifetime,
we checked our bags with some Serb wine.
They stamped our passports, no shakedown
          in Slavic fields.

Pat Laster

For twenty-seven happy years I taught
kiddos music, fine arts, gifted ed.
Retiring gave me time to write. Tonight
my household’s off to Open House
I’ll cloak myself in quietness, unplug
telephone, turn off the TV’s blare.
I’ll stare awhile to settle down, and then
. I’d rather write than go to school.
I sent my representative. My feet                   
atop the coffee table. CD plays
organ-ed "Sheep May Safely Graze" by Bach
a favorite. Serene, I sit, devise
iambic lines, ten syllables per line.
This time alone rejuvenates my soul
like nothing else. It brings me joy and peace,
feeling of accomplishment. A word
a phrase, I’m on my way. And all I have
to do, says Hemingway, is string some words
into one true sentence. There
I’ve reached my goal. "Hooray," I say, and smile.

Valerie Esker

In somber light of his sick-room
old clown in his blankets
is swallowed by shadows in unreal gloom
Thick silence weighs his eyelids
crouches low on his chest-wall
is a heavy cold harbinger of dastardly doom
Harsh illness now etches his pitiful paleness
on thin face that the grease-paint formerly drew   
cute caricature of fun, through happier years
In deep dreams he hears laughter
plays the skit . . . does a prat-fall
unaware that his viewers cry un-circus-like tears  

Jennifer Smith

Leaden sky
Gray, overcast
The sun peeks through
My soul sings.

Stinging wind
Driving sleet and rain
Frosty drizzle
Icy walks
Bundled in wool
My soul shivers.

A golden orb
Shining brightly
Orange highlights on
Barren branches
Purple shadows
Like long fingers
Reach across the dry lawn
My soul worships.

January days
Some are cloudy
Some are sunny
All demonstrate the power
Of our loving Creator.

"This is the day that the Lord has made
I will rejoice and be glad in it." 
                              Psalm 118:24




(and Long Brown Stockings)
Faye Adams

I detest these stockings;
they're coarse, brown and ugly.
I hate the garters worse

elastic circles cut off circulation,
but fail to halt the laddering
on my skinny legs.
If only . . . I picture myself
in warm jeans and no teasing
from Tommy Rogers.
I put the garters to better use,
roll the repulsive stockings
down around my ankles.
Tommy taunts, "Who gave
you jointed toothpicks for legs?"
I lost it.
Now, Tommy has a black eye
and my nose is in the corner.

Jean Even

Standing tall on the wings of a prayer,

My feet are planted on a solid rock.

I’m nestled in the cleft of His mighty hand,

A sure foundation built from the beginning of time.


A polished rock for eagles to rest,

I learn my lessons in a refiner’s fire.

Forging my sword in His good word,

I stand ready against the dragons when they come.


Standing tall on a sure foundation,

My feet are shod with Gospel peace.

I now wear His salvation armor,

Secure against all fears on the wings of prayer.

Harding Stedler

They land in a swish,
braking against still waters
and waking peaceful darkness
into dawn.
The web-footed geese
thunder among the the crispness
of October
a waking call
for apartment dwellers who snore
toward shorelines to their south.

Honking summons distant geese
who fly for miles
in search of scattered corn
strewn along the bank.
I only want to hear tomorrow
in their voices
and promises of sun.


Diane Auser Stefan


Catching the sun,

Old jars of blue,

Bright gems,

A cobalt row

Line the windowsill

Turning light into magic.


Blue, so blue,

Like ocean depths

Under almost midnight skies,

Each jar a blue jewel.

Steve Penticuff
A poet once told in his glory
a lurid, degenerate story.
   Narrator and he
   were equal, thought we,
and stoned him to dust at the quarry.

Bobbie Craig

Super Bowl Sunday,
another winter weekend
and she has warm fantasies
of the non-sporting sort.

She longs to migrate
and her opening play
is a plane lifting off
en route to a warm beach.

Her offensive line
reserves a waterfront house
supplies the pantry and
stocks up on fresh produce.

Sunscreen, bottled water
bright fluffy towels
paperback books, new i-Pod
complete her defensive plan.

She celebrates game victory
with friendly tropical toasts
as she strolls Florida's
apricot sunset sands.

Henrietta Romman

set His
feet above
the troubled lands
He walked toward us,
open arms embraced us,
flowing Blood chastised our hearts,
our shame was put on Him alone.
All sins dived deep into the ocean
then God's eternal GLORY was reclaimed.

Pat Durmon

young like a puppy,
curled-up against her proud mother
who gives licks
with closed eyes and contented paws
when snowdrifts swiftly declare 

David Gregg
ew Member from Jefferson City, Missouri

The deacon's dog
barks joyfully
hear the evening bells

Sunset shimmers
the robins rest
nature's little tells

"Repent, repent!"
the bells appeal,
"Day may not return"

The canine kneels
at Master's feet
bells will never learn

A seven
Tom Padgett

Here’s to those who make us laugh
whatever their intentions!

Politicians, weathermen,
whatever their dimensions,

lengthen our days, stave off night
whatever their inventions.

Here’s to those who make us laugh!


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