Vol. 4, No. 7     An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society     1 July 2005


We get so caught up in the fast pace of life today that we are many times unaware of the beauty at our feet.  We have been admonished frequently to stop and smell the roses, but often instead we are captivated by what Wordsworth called the "getting and spending," so much so that January turns into July almost as if there were not supposed to be five months between them.  I become aware each month when you send me a poem for the next issue (or fail to get a poem to me) that we live life so rapidly we cry out for relief.  Even day-by-day pain and sorrow that we think will never end actually melts quickly down and changes radically as we try to recall details after they have disappeared from our memory.  How important it is that we capture our experiences in poems!  Alan Dugan, our poet of the month, named his books Poems, Poems Two, Poems Three, etc. (his last book was Poems Seven) to emphasize that for him poetry recorded his daily living and therefore was frankly autobiography.  I was delighted to hear Dugan's remarks.  Often we have been told never to use first- or second-person pronouns.  Some editors refuse "I" poetry--I did this or I did that.  They want lyrics that have universal, not personal, relevance.  Dugan said that today's poet fights for a position of self-relevance, showing in poems what life is to him or her, for life in art should be glimpsed individually as well as collectively. Therefore, I challenge us this month to snare a personal chunk of life by shaping it into verse to preserve it. Look around.  What's blooming at your feet?  --  Tom Padgett 


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Begin by reading this brief biography of Dugan and a few poems:

For in interview with Dugan and to hear him read three of his poems, visit

For a booklet of five Dugan poems, download them at

For a list of web sites featuring Dugan and his poetry visit

Buy a book of Dugan's poetry at


Bev Conklin

It is the Fourth of July!
She sits on the ground in the city park.
Once again, three generations of her family
have met for this annual ritual.
All afternoon they share
food, naps, news--and games;
gossip, crocheting, horeshoes and soft ball
for the grown-ups--tag, three-legged races,
and blind-man's bluff for the children.

Night finally comes and now she sits,
wide-eyed, almost unblinking,
afraid of missing even a second
of the wondrous fireworks display.
She hears a soft swish . . . silence . . .
Then overhead in the hot black heavens,
brilliant, varicolored "corn" starts to pop!
Silence again when the popping stops,
and the colored kernels fall silently.
Then a THUD!--
so loud it reverberates,
bouncing from sky to ground and back again.
Instinctively, clapping hands to her ears,
she oohs and aahs with delight . . .

I used to be that little girl,
seventy-some years ago, or so.
Now she's gone, like the others around her.
No more reunions.
That was another world--another life.

Tonight, I sit alone in a chair,
far away from that tiny city park.
I watch children and their parents--
most of them strangers.
We're waiting for the fireworks' exciting display
to be reflected in the lake.
Once again, I am called
to be a part of this midsummer ritual.

Judy Young

Long ago I was told and it's true I have found
Once in a while you must go to the ground.

I grounded myself today
On a large flat rock in a dry creek bed
I lay back until my head
Felt the hard cold rock and as I lay
The sun of the Indian summer warmed my face
And covered my body with a blanket of lace
As through the leaves it danced and played.

I grounded myself today
I heard secrets whispered by the breeze
In an unfamiliar tongue spoken through the trees
And as I smelled fall's sweet bouquet
An orchestra of insects started to drum
Filling my ears with their musical hum
Harmonizing with the trickling of the waterway.

I grounded myself today
I let myself sink into the earth
Back to the origin's of life's birth
I molded myself to the earth like a piece of clay
I became small, invisible, nothing
The universe huge, ubiquitous, everything
I grounded myself today.

Phyllis Moutray

Who knew
ornamental trees
bore fruit? 
They do.
Their plums litter
my front walk,
much as Enron's
lies shatter
the faith of the nation.

Tania Gray

In Memphis, ride a trolley car
to Gus's Chicken, singular
with green tomatoes on the side
hot and spicy, Southern-fried.

You drink sweet tea to wash it down
but still your throat is in meltdown
you eat the pickles goggle-eyed
hot and spicy, Southern-fried.

And later at the Marriott
your tongue still burning fiery hot
you smell like chicken sulphurized
hot and spicy, Southern-fried.

Velvet Fackeldey
I'm alone now
I don't know how
or why it's so
once more I'll vow
to hold my head
above the dread
forward I'll go
smiling instead
of tears that stalk
I'll walk the walk
no matter pain
I'll talk the talk
no one will know
my heart is low
perhaps I'm vain
to hide it so





Harding Stedler

Too much rain too fast
in the flood plain
leaves garden stakes
anything but upright.
Beans grow slanted
on the vines;
tomatoes droop
sideways in the sun.

I set out to restore
my world
where the only dirt is mud
and clings to shoe soles
like ticks to dogs.
I carry across the yard
what belongs to roots
and April winds.
I steal away in shadows
soft as sponge.

Valerie Esker

You would not know
to look at me
that I am a she-devil
of the highest order

No, I appear as
someone’s grandmother
gray and non-descript

I hang and hover
over houseplants and babies
soft and giving
as Gaea, mother earth

Oh, but descend with me
deep into the caverns of my soul
where rock and sinew
and fire define me

Then you will gasp
and tremble
and wonder at my power
my strength

There, I shout strains of Wagnerian splendor
I leap high and cymbals clash
I bend to no-one
tower over all

In my core
lava boils

Nancy Powell

Light is fading and night birds call,
dart and float over the meadow.
Nine strikes from the clock in the hall
send children to bed, toys in tow.
Fragrance lingers from tart plum jams,
hot--under warm cloth--clicking jars.
Breezes lick sweat; the screen door slams;
I sit counting blessings and stars.

Patricia A. Laster

new bride’s
in-laws saying,
“We’re not ready to be
grandparents; we’ll let you know when
we are.”

punishment: no
TV/ video games.
He learns Carroll’s "Jabberwocky"
by heart.

on two lakes. Still
he didn’t like fishing,
nor did he have any other

Tom Padgett

He said, “Yes, I have everything I need,”
and when we heard his boast, we smiled for we’d

not heard a child so happy with his lot.
His little voice piped out as if he were

a prophet called to sit in judgment on
our complex lives since it now seemed to us

with fewer goals we might, like him, find peace
for anxious souls. The parking lot was full

but luck had opened us a space beside
their truck. We’d rolled the windows down, exchanged

some words of greeting. We had taught the man
but now were meeting both his wife and son--

the four-year old whose eyes were firmly fixed
on fields of fireworks, pyrotechnical

displays the lad assured us would not end
till after he and grandpa could shoot his.

He confidently shook his little head:
“Yes, I have everything I need,” he said.



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