Vol. 2, No. 7            An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society        1 July 2003


Okay, okay, I know I used a flag picture before, but that was for the March issue to show the effects of March winds. This is July, when all Americans wax patriotic. Some Americans, like Walt Whitman our Poet of the Month, waxed patriotic and poetic. How different our time is from his! Frequently today you find poets, along with singers and movie stars, joining politicians to make points by attacking government, usually along party lines. When one such self-made authority misquotes William Shakespeare, however, all poets regardless of political party feel abused, for Shakespeare was first of all loyal to two monarchs (Elizabeth I and James I), and, second, certainly a better writer than the one Barbra Streisand recently quoted and whose words she ascribed to Shakespeare. When corrected, she retorted that Shakespeare should have written what she quoted. I am sure he did not roll over in his grave at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. He has been misquoted for over four hundred years, and what is worse even than Streisand's adding to the canon of his work is the multitude of critics taking his works away from him, saying he never wrote any of his poems and plays, that Francis Bacon wrote them or Edward de Vere (Earl of Oxford) or some other Shakespeare contemporary, that obviously Shakespeare never had the education needed to write them.

But Streisand aside (she is obviously one of us, the "people who need people" who should be remembered as "the way we were" before talking politics), Donald Foster, a professor at Vassar, in a 1995 front-page story in The New York Times, announced the discovery of a funeral elegy of 578 lines that computer analysis proved conclusively to him and Richard Abrams, professor at the University of Southern Maine, Foster's associate in the study, to be the work of Shakespeare. So believable was their claim, that the elegy was promptly added to three major editions of Shakespeare's work. Just last summer, however, both professors were eating crow--la corneille, actually, since it was a French scholar, Gilles D. Monsarrat, a professor at the University of Burgundy, who threw out the computer study for a textual analysis that convinced the world of Shakespearean scholars, including even Foster and Abrams, that the elegy was the work of John Ford (1586-1640). Ford is at last honored for what he wrote, and Shakespeare is not dishonored for what he didn't write.  This brings me back to July, a month for parades and speeches full of assertions, some of which in the heat of the moment may still be true. In my opinion one of the best poems on politicians and politics is a satirical sonnet by e. e. cummings. Click here to read cummings's take on political speeches:

                                                                                                                        --Tom Padgett, Editor


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            Spare Mule Online

            National Federation of State Poetry Societies
            Strophes Online



Remember to read Spare Mule Online and Strophes Online at the addresses given on the Contents menu. You can keep up with members who get newsletters by mail by remembering to read them on the Net. The July 1 issue of Spare Mule Online is now available.  Strophes does not appear again until August 1 in order to give a complete list of winners of the NFSPS contests.


As a member of Thirty-Seven Cents, you are also a member of Missouri State Poetry Society and hence pay half-price fees to enter the summer and winter contests.  Also, remember that our contests are open to poems that have been published as well as new poems.  Every poem you have that is 40 or fewer lines can be entered in one of our five categories.  Get the other details about the contests by clicking on Summer Contest on the Contents menu above.


Our state convention will be held in Springfield on September 26 and 27.  You are invited to attend.  Guest poets this year are X. J. Kennedy and Marcus Cafagna.  Click on Spare Mule Online above to read other details about the convention.


Carl Sandburg in his introduction to the Modern Library edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass wrote, "Leaves of Grass is the most wildly keyed solemn oath that America means something and is going somewhere that has ever been written; it is America's most classic advertisement of itself as having purpose, destiny, banners and beacon-fires."  In his preface to the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, Whitman discussed six characteristics of a great poet.  Number four was that the great poet is the voice of his nation.  At the end of the preface, Whitman summarized his preface, saying, "The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it." Appropriately, Whitman is our featured poet for July.  Read a brief biography of Whitman at

Hear Whitman read four lines from his poem "America" at

Other poems are available at

An interesting article about Whitman that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 1902 is available at:

If you are really industrious, you can find Whitman's complete Preface to Leaves of Grass at


(Pat Laster)

on every plane--
table, bar, kitchen floor,
bureau and buffet. Which box hides
the spoons?

(Bev Conklin)

Recycling, we all agree
is something we should do.
Agreeing is the easy part--
just try to see it through.

If things could go in one big bag,
no problems would arise;
but where to hide six of them
really takes the prize.

One for glass and one for tins,
plastic bottles (marked one and two),
aluminum cans, plastic bags,
and microchip cardboard, too.

Each group has to be separate
and go to different places.
Six screws on the laundry room wall
designate their spaces.

Tomorrow's the monthly recycle;
they have special rules, too.
I've got it all together,
but I don't have a bag that's blue.

Drive down to the store to buy them.
Look at the gas I'll waste!
No choice -- I must follow through.
I've just run out of space!.

(Wesley Willis)

A farmer lives in the valley of Mead,
Where the Osage River whispers life.
In fog dense as mist he plants the seed
And reaps the valley, he and his wife.
To raise pigs, crops of corn he feeds.
They relax in the evening, he with his knife.
Dolly, his wife, contentedly smiles,
The scent of her cooking floats for miles.

A child is born in the valley of Mead,
To the farmer and wife, who look with love,
On this little Rose--she's all they need
Through long winter nights, the stars above,
Like words expressed in books, succeed
In filling their hearts with the joy thereof.
The mother sings sweet songs to Rose,
And the father's love for his daughter grows

But fog remains in the valley of Mead,
And troubles obscure these times of bliss.
For death occurs, and sad hearts bleed,
Too shocked at first to reminisce.
But at last in the valley of Mead grief cedes
To those who lost their Rose--what is
All of her that is left to hold--
Memories of happiness, days of gold.

(Harding Stedler)

Loneliness hangs heavy
like September grapes.
I feel the pull of over-ripe
yield to the tug
of gravity.

I fear that I
may one day wither
like those grapes
beyond their prime.

Vines bear the burden
and sag
under the weight
of bountiful harvest.

With shoulders slumped
and a slower gait,
I too recede
into a Sunkist raisin.

(Velvet Fackeldey)

I didn't say goodbye.
I didn't know it was the end.
I thought I would see you again
and there would be
a big, dramatic scene.
And even after that
I would still see you now and then.
It never occurred to me
that you would die.


(Tania Gray)

Green splat
Could be sap
Landed flat
In my lap

Ink blot
All my fault
Ruined my plot
Cried a lot

Life was spent
There it went
Was it sent?

(Tom Padgett)

When Chopin played his "Minute Waltz,"
it had no faults.
In runs and trills
he proved his skills.

When I pound out its three-four beat
with two left feet,
its grace notes smear
to grate the ear.

In all its varied tempos, I'm
behind the time:
I get them wrong
and take too long.

(Judy Young)

She pulled a blanket of gray fleece
Across her celestial body,
Wrapping herself in its warmth,
Protection against the chill of the diminishing night.
The edge of her blanket was lined
With a strip of pink satin
That rippled along the horizon
And softly draped across her.
Yet she left shoulders bare,
Uncovered and exposed,
Glowing like melted gold
In the eastern sky,
So seductive
I canšt keep my eyes off of her.

(Jean Even)

O basket of summer fruit,
Pass not by me without hearing my voice.
Leave me not as a dead body that's unholy
Nor let me be silently cast out in heathen places
To hear the howling songs of those left in the temple
Or leave me lingering on trembling ground.
Count me not as one falsifying the balance
To no longer be remembered in Your Book of Life.

Hold me up on Your wings of prayer.
Let not the fishhook take from me
The promises given for all of eternity.
Neither let my dry bones wither to ash
For the worms to eat what remains of me.
Help me to seek your face every day
Lest your fire break out in fierce demands
And there be no one to quench it, not even the rain.

You who created the seven stars even Orion,
I beseech You to hear my heart's repentance.
Set Your plumb line within my soul
That I my enjoy Your sweet heavenly fruit
And never know one day of degradation and famine
Nor wander in a land of torment and ruin.
Bring me into Your fair city to thirst no more
So I can feast upon Your basket of summer fruit.

(Todd Sukany)

To let me know that you are there,
I only need a simple word or maybe just a touch.

Occupy the vacant stare
To let me know that you are there.

Your tender hand and tears we share
Are not too much

To let me know that you are there.
I only need a simple word or maybe just a touch.