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


Everywhere you look today you see cats and their friends.  Nearly everything you hear or read about cats leads non-cat lovers to think they are missing out on one of life's great opportunities.  Even the less attractive traits of cats come across as okay, if not downright heartwarming.  The current New York Times Book Review list of Advice and Miscellaneous Books features as its number four best seller Bad Cat, a celebration of the dark side of cats, for example, a cat's selfishness as illustrated by a cat greeting his master (word choice?) with "Don't tell me about your day.  Just open the can."  Some of you are cat lovers, cat providers, or cat slaves.  Others of you have long-term relationships with cat-partners, usually devoted to a single cat you used to love passionately but now quite calmly a cat you have learned to live with unfeverishly.  I have been more of a dog person much of my life but at present am neither a cat nor a dog lover.  My north neighbor, however, has five cats he raises between litters (at litter time he has ten or so), and my good friend Larry Thomas, who survived a wonderful spate of years with Harry as his significant cat other, now lives in a menage a trois with the two cats pictured above.  All of which has moved me from my former position as sort of a cat tolerator (See my poem "Fond of Fauna" below) to that of a cat inquisitor, not to question the cats but rather their companions.  I have become one interested by all this fascination with felines.  As editor of this e-zine, I am especially curious as to poems you have written about cats.  Or other pets, of course.  Send me something.
                                                                                         -- 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


Some of you have asked if we could have monthly assignments, so for those interested we will resurrect the Workshop page and challenge ourselves to learn some new forms or write poems on certain subjects.  We will continue to publish old or new poems in Poems by Members, but poems written for assignments will go in the Workshop page.  Members are asked to suggest topics or forms for us to write.  For January AND February we are challenged to write a poem in syllable count lines following the example of Marianne Moore.  Note her poem "Poetry" (see Poet of the Month, first web site listed).  Some arbitrary rules for our assignment:  Write at least 3 stanzas with at least 5 lines in each stanza.  Set up a pattern of syllables per lines per stanza, such as 9, 5, 9, 4, 7.  Make each stanza follow your pattern, but note that you can cheat (as Moore does) a bit on your count if you need to.  Line breaks and syllable breaks are strictly by numerical count, not by punctuation.  Note how the poem  has no rhyme, has no phrase or line repetition as free verse often does, has no regular iambic feet or pentameter lines as blank verse.  It sounds like prose poetry, but it has lines and stanzas, and both lines and stanzas break in quite unusual places  (to get her syllable count, Moore breaks one line with a hyphen).  The idea or meaning of the poem is the main thing.  Try it.  Send me your poem as soon as you can.


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 October 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, some letters, and several poems:

Additional criticism and poetry may be found at these sites: 


Nancy Powell

Crimson red clover, worked by bees,
peacefully swaying with the breeze,
blue skies overhead, sun on my skin,
sweet dreams are made of things like these.

Closing my eyes, I drift again
back to child games easier to win.
Bright visions brush away gloom,
call back a thought to start the spin.

Butterflies kiss flowers in bloom
arousing winds to stir perfume.
Selective recall is the key
that unlocks charm in any room.

Brief are moments truly free;
squirrels scold from a hickory tree
that this territoryís not for me.
Itís time for fantasy to flee.

Judy Young

Flat planes of gray lie
scattered across the level
expanse of Illinois fields

forming irregular shapes,
solids framed by new green
stripes, widening and

narrowing unevenly, hinting,
at certain angles, of lessons
in perspective.

My tires race past on
flat planes of black
pavement, sending mist

in its wake. You sleep,
missing the moment when
the sun briefly pushes through

the dense foreboding clouds
to turn the fields to
polished silver.


Velvet Fackeldey

the new year beckons
teasing with possibilities
tantalizing prospects
promising another new beginning
and once again it eludes the grasp
as it slips through the fingers
and becomes days and weeks and months gone by
once more a fresh start lost to time
as we wait for another new year
to come around
bringing hope

Phyllis Moutray

Why is one's contribution, one's life's work,
frequently not recognized during one's time?

How many recognized
Vincent Van Gogh's artistic genuis?
How many were kind despite his insanity?
Do you think it safe to say not many,
or perhaps to venture an answer of not any.

Why do you suppose
nineteenth century recluse, spinster,
Elizabeth Barrett Browning , suffered anonymity?
Did any speculate this childless woman's immortality?

How many even read,
"I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree"?
Today's advertisement "Dare to be different"
could be the mantra for all times.

Do you suppose tomorrow's immortals
are among today's spurned or anonymous?
Do you imagine it's true "the more things change,
the more they stay the same?"

Tom Padgett

I am a man who's always loved
the animals I've lived among.
I've spent my time in filling bowls,
bathing, worming, cleaning up dung.

And though I have no bumper strip,
I've braked for terrapins or squirrels
and let my family keep enough
tame animals to please three girls.

Each gerbil, puppy, hamster, fish,
and kitten in our house turned loose
contributed its part till I
was traumatized by pet abuse.

So when a fellow martyr from
another section of our town
chose night to dump a cat on us,
I did not take it lying down.

I yielded to the prompting of
some basic, generous chromosome.
I caught that cat, drove thirteen blocks,
and helped it find another home.


Pat Laster

In the gym
noisy as starlings,
cluster four square
in metal chairs
with missing backs.
Lumbering fans
barely stir the air.
Babies brought
to mothers-in-absentia
stripped to diapers,
fawned over, fanned
with empty popcorn sacks.
Other moms follow children
to cumbersome machines
swallowing coins,
spewing packets of chips
and cans of cola.
Outside, still
other mothers carry,
walk their youngsters
through the courtyard,
fenced and razor-wired.
Gathered under the stoop
a group sings
Amazing Grace.
Couples in quiet conversation
circle the yard, lap after lap;
no one ready
when the whistle blows.

Tania Gray

A moth is trapped in a clear plastic box
among strapping tape, box cutter, scissors
and labels, the tools for packing possessions.
The moth is trapped in a clear plastic box
buzzing against a corner where straight ahead
looks open but there's an invisible wall.
If the moth would fly up it could clear
all the jumble it spends itself then quits
not knowing there's no lid on the box.
I am tired of straight-ahead movements
of switchbacks and detours
and roadblocks horizontally
there is no progress
there's no lid on my box, why not fly?

Jean Even

And ye shall be filled with the Holy Ghost,
With glad tidings and joy from Heavenís Host,
Flooded with laughter, spreading to most
Folks the news of peace from coast to coast.

And from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific coast,
Many shall return Your glad tidings and boast
Of the cheer that comes from the Holy Ghost.
The birth of Jesus is something to toast.

And so it was Jesus gave us His most
Precious gift from the Heavenly Host:
Eternal life with God on Zionís coast,
A joy in freedom with the Holy Ghost.

And now we can all stand and boast
With joy to make a praising toast,
To God, Lord, and King, our Heavenly Host.
Hereís to Your peace on earth resounding the most.


Harding Stedler

The coats are dancing merrily
behind closed doors.
I hear their rhythms jingle
as they sway.

When I unfold the closet door
to watch, I see happy coats,
headless coats
that hear music I don't hear.

Their steps are uniform,
perfect and silent,
in the dimly lit ballroom.

The emperor, from his throne
encased in glass,
looks down,
nods his approval.
The dancers keep right on.