Vol. 7, No. 1    An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society   January  2008



Here's to a Happy New Year for you!  I enjoy seeing your poems each month, and I thank you for them.  When you send one e-mailed to me, I remember that is how this local chapter, Thirty-Seven Cents, is supposed to work--no one having to retype a poem.  So I am reminding those who send poems snail mail  in books or letters that I need to get your poems e-mailed.  Another way you can help is to send the poems aligned left (not centered) and in Times New Roman 12 font.  I can manage the aligning and the font, but you can help if you want.  This past year has been a year of adversity in many personal and collective ways.  Several of you have been touched by illness.  Some have pulled through in grand shape; others still struggle.  We can all help each other in small and large ways to sing through adversity.  I look forward to singing with you.  -- 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 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 below for more on Hass, our Poet of the Month.

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." 

John Ashbery has been named MtvU's poet laureate.  This is an exclusive network designed for college students.  Ashbery, who is 80 years old,  was a surprising winner.  His early poetry was very difficult to understand; now it is more accessible.  Read the New York Times story at

Lev Grossman in the June 18, 2007, issue of TIME discusses the $200 million gift of Ruth Lilly to Poetry magazine.  Grossman asks if this huge gift can revive a "dying art."  Read Grossman's article at,9171,1630571,00.html

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, 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 139

Man's best friend is, of course, woman's best friend, too. The Illinois poet, Bruce Guernsey, offers us this snapshot of a mutually agreed upon dependency that leads to a domestic communion.

The Lady and the Tramp

As my mother's memory dims
she's losing her sense of smell
and can't remember the toast
blackening the kitchen with smoke
or sniff how nasty the breath of the dog
that follows her yet from room to room,
unable, himself, to hear his own bark.

It's thus they get around,
the wheezing old hound stone deaf
baying like a smoke alarm
for his amnesiac mistress whose back
from petting him is bent forever
as they shuffle towards the flaming toaster
and split the cindered crisp that's left.

American Life in Poetry: Column 141

Life becomes more complicated every day, and each of us can control only so much of what happens. As for the rest?  Poet Thomas R. Smith of Wisconsin offers some practical advice.


It's like so many other things in life
to which you must say no or yes.
So you take your car to the new mechanic.
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.

The package left with the disreputable-looking
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers--
all show up at their intended destinations.

The theft that could have happened doesn't.
Wind finally gets where it was going
through the snowy trees, and the river, even
when frozen, arrives at the right place.

And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life
is delivered, even though you can't read the address.

American Life in Poetry: Column 140

Here's a holiday poem by Steven Schneider that I like very much for its light spirit and evocative sensory detail. Isn't this a party to which you'd like to be invited?

Chanukah Lights Tonight

Our annual prairie Chanukah party--
latkes, kugel, cherry blintzes.
Friends arrive from nearby towns
and dance the twist to "Chanukah Lights Tonight,"
spin like a dreidel to a klezmer hit.

The candles flicker in the window.
Outside, ponderosa pines are tied in red bows.
If you squint,
the neighbors' Christmas lights
look like the Omaha skyline.

The smell of oil is in the air.
We drift off to childhood
where we spent our gelt
on baseball cards and matinees,
cream sodas and potato knishes.

No delis in our neighborhood,
only the wind howling over the crushed corn stalks.
Inside, we try to sweep the darkness out,
waiting for the Messiah to knock,
wanting to know if he can join the party.

American Life in Poetry: Column 142

There's that old business about the tree falling in the middle of the forest with no one to hear it: does it make a noise? Here Linda Gregg, of New York, offers us a look at an elegant beauty that can be presumed to exist and persist without an observer.


All that is uncared for.
Left alone in the stillness
in that pure silence married
to the stillness of nature.
A door off its hinges,
shade and shadows in an empty room.
Leaks for light. Raw where
the tin roof rusted through.
The rustle of weeds in their
different kinds of air in the mornings,
year after year.
A pecan tree, and the house
made out of mud bricks. Accurate
and unexpected beauty, rattling
and singing. If not to the sun,
then to nothing and to no one.


For an encyclopedia article on Kirby go to

For a one-page listing of Kirby's achievments go to

The citation when he was named distinguished professor is at

For his poem "Ode to Myself as a Rough Draft" go to

For "The Fear of Reading," a shorter poem, go to

For a poem from his collection of  Ha-Ha poems go to,M1


Laurence W. Thomas

The body grows as it rolls

into quite a respectable snowball
with a smaller roll placed on top.


Not quite what we wanted
we note as we finally heft
the head into place.

As kids, we made these.
Now, we canít find coal and
somebody steals the carrot


Phyllis Moutray

Perpetuity is the
thousands of airplane shaped seeds
hanging from my red bud tree.

Harding Stedler

Some of the seventeen have since                                    set aside their earthly chores
and paved the paths to eternity
for those who remain.
Over fifty years,
the original number
has dwindled by a third.

How could fifty years
have passed this quickly?
Not long ago, I sat
with sixteen comrades
on a green-and-white draped stage,
doubting, with them, that twelve seasons
of public school
could have become so suddenly

Five decades scattered
all seventeen to distant corners
of the globe,
serving country, self,
and the neediest of humanity.

They left behind their mark
on civilizations
in a century
born of bombs and medicine--
nuclear, all nuclear.

Pat Durmon    

Dear poet, wherever you may be,

Every poetic phrase you dare pen

Celebrates or cuts the wintry air in both the far

East and near west.   Specially true in this miraculous

Month.  May each of us splash in a river of love

Brought our way by flashing thoughts, a raging light, 
Earthy worth, a beautiful complication, or hand-rubbed

Round sounds from a plain-talking magnificent Muse.

Tania Gray

We rode the Branson Scenic Railway line
(a vintage train with engine at each end)--
secured our tickets in advance and got

prime places in an observation car.

We started rolling quietly, above

the Taneycomo Lake, through Hollister,

past fields with turkeys, up an eight-mile grade,

saw long-deserted villages through trees,
snaked into tunnels cut from solid rock,

and out on ridge tops in the sinking sun.
Somewhere we crossed the line to Arkansas

and ended high above a deep ravine

on trestle tracks, where one huge eagle soared,
and swooping, disappeared.  We stopped midway,

suspended.  Then the train crept slowly back,

retracing our same path, the same scenes scrolled

across our view, a drama in reverse.

We ended at the start, a train of fools.
We never made it to an end depot--
we never placed our feet in Arkansas.
We felt a vague unconsummated, flat

and disappointing loss-- we got nowhere!
I'm almost tired of going back and forth--

You think you're getting somewhere and you're not--
I'd like to cross that great divide, to let

the eagle lead me to the other side.
I'd like to step out on that higher ground,
the land of promises fulfilled, without
encumbrances or baggage, just step out

into a warm familial embrace.
I have my one-way ticket: all aboard!

Pat Laster

Cinquain sequence

He'd said,
"To improve your
memory, think AIR." I
could remember Intensity,
the R,
But  listening to a wren,
I couldn't get my brain around
the A.

Diane Auser Stefan

Sadly Jane Kenyon writes no more

Too early, too young, death stopped her pen


In tribute,

Janeís Girls place

not 100 White Daffodils at her grave. . .

instead writing 100 right poems

from their hearts


Otherwise, if they did not,

there would be regrets. . .

if poems were not penned,

if they did not marvel

at finding a long gray hair,

if they did not each find joy and wonder

and love mornings with the

man waking  at their side,

if they did not share trust in a biscuit

with their dog


oh, there would be regrets

if they did not search for happiness and honesty

in their own written words


Write on, Janeís Girls, write on


She would be proud, as am I

to have been able to call you
her poetic friends.


Bev Conklin
I've made a resolution
to start a revolution
in the way I live my life:
Eliminate the strife.
I'll exercise each day
and greatly change the way
I plan my every meal:
Seeking calories to steal.
When two thousand nine comes around,
in good health I'll abound--
no bad habits to stop:
Champagne cork will pop!




Cindy Tebo
ozark thin topsoil
holding my footsteps among
the oaks and hickories
Henrietta Romman
At this time of year
I' d rather have a hug.
You live so near
I need no cards my dear.
Kindly whisper unto
the Lord for me
a wishful prayer
that stands sincere!
A true embrace equals
millions in grace . . .
when from a truthful
heart it will unfold.
The hand is almost dead,
instead, my heart can spray
a prayer, rich in truth
than many words
none of my own.
And when we meet,
with warm words of
concern upon your lips..
our hearts confirm
that Jesus our Messiah
dwells in us!
So kindly, Brother, Sister,
keep me alive with prayers
of uttered blessings--
you too never quit my mind!
Friends, always love me in your thoughts
and heart--no need to send a card.

Dewell H. Byrd

Everyone hushed about the house;
family, friends, neighbors

as if speaking above a whisper
might awaken him.

Cold wind whined under watery skies,
whispered through clapboard cracks.

Small children sought safety
in the corner behind the Franklin stove.

Preacher brought a wooden box, black book.
Everybody wore clean clothes, shiny shoes.

Hugs, tears, muffled voices, songs soft and low,
folks brought Sunday food.

Years have softened the images,
soothed the hurt in my heart.

David became seven forever
that gray November day.

Bobbie Craig

A gentle wind whispers
through the hollows
while Nature tucks in
the valleys and plains
with a blanket of
fleecy new snow.

Round-top Ozark Mountains
don frosty nightcaps as they
stand watch beneath clear
blue-black skies glittered
with infinite brilliant stars.

Diffused moonlight casts
suede shadows from cedars
and bare silhouette trees as
restless solitary deer forage.
Camouflage-coated rabbits
dart, leave silent footprints.
In patient pursuit of quarry,
owl's eyes reflect falling snow.

Earth and beasts continue
life's cycle, connected and
vital, under winter's quilt.

Steve Penticuff
Curiosity kills the prairie dog
while Lucy levitates above the plain,
then rides across the prairie grass
with dolphins emerging on vibrations
from a thirty foot saxophone.
Together they catch giant gusts of sound
across Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada
en route to the Monterey Institute
Corrections Facility.

Valerie Esker

Roseate Spoonbill
wades in sunset tidal pool
     pink on pink, on pink.


Tom Padgett 

"Where are the snows of yesteryear?"
we ask as summer lingers till December.
"Why, I remember ponds that froze

by Halloween and stayed that way
till April," we publicly recollect.
"When I was twelve I got ice-skates 

and a rifle both for Christmas.  
The gun's another story, but those skates--
not shoe skates--I mean ones you strapped

and buckled and clamped, and if you managed well,
you didn't sprain your ankle,"
we expatiate and then sometimes we improvise:

"I was no Eric Heiden, no Dan Jansen,
just Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates mixed
up a little bit with 'Peter and the Dike.'" 

Our eyes mist up: "Early in the mornings
we chopped holes for our cattle to get water,
then we'd lay aside the axe, don our skates,

and soar across the ice.  No pirouettes,
no fancy stuff, just basic speeding
around and around avoiding reeds

and the fence strung right across the middle
that made one pond do for two pastures,
and also missing the holes where cattle shoved

their mates aside to drink, then lifted
their sad eyes, brimming over with envy
as they watched us flying, sliding, falling,

laughing, struggling back afoot--
back askate that is."  We stop and shake
our heads: "No ice like that nowadays."



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