Vol. 2, No. 6            An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society        1 June 2003


The mill pictured above, at Alley Springs in Shannon County, is picturesque, but it is also interesting because of its history, the size of daily flow of the spring, its watershed, and its sources.  For example, artifacts reveal that Delaware Indians lived near Alley Springs for many years up to 1811.  The first settler to "claim" the springs was James Tackett in 1848.  Ten years later it was officially homesteaded by James McCormack.  The first mill was built in 1870 at Barksdale Spring, as it was called till John Alley moved to the area, bringing the first post office and naming its hamlet after himself.  The present mill was constructed in 1893 and operated till 1918, only 25 years.  It was a state park from 1927 to 1971.  At that time it was transferred to federal ownership.  Today it is the most frequently visited of Ozark springs and holds the record for the largest credible measured flow: 1,776 billion gallons of water on April 22, 1974.  Members of Missouri State Poetry Society who purchased the state anthology have just received this year's books with a linoleum block cut by Tania Gray of the grist mill at Alley Springs on the cover. We have several of these mills in our state, and appropriately our poetry anthology is named GRIST, for poetry, too, is the product of much grinding.  Fact, creative invention, emotion, melody, vocabulary are, along with other ingredients, ground into poetry.  In "Retribution," a quatrain by Longfellow about God's absolute control of the universe, we are reminded that grinding may take a long time, and results may be "exceeding small," but they are inevitable.  We take heart, for the poet, also a creator, finds "grist for his own mill," and begins again and again the process.  Ground any good poems, lately?    

                                                                                                               --Tom Padgett, Editor      


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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 National Federation of State Poetry Societies will meet June 5-8 for its annual convention at Augustana College in Sioux Falls.  


On May 20, the PEN American Center, largest of 132 centers of International PEN, awarded its 2003 poetry award to Dana Levin for In the Surgical Theatre.  Levin, 34, was born in Lancaster, California, in the Mojave Desert. A 1998 Pushcart: Best of the Small Presses Prize winner, she has received fellowships, grants and awards from the Academy of American Poets, The Vermont Arts Council, the Vermont Studio Center, the Ucross Foundation and New York University, where she received her MA from the Creative Writing Program in 1992.  In the Surgical Theatre, her first book, was also chosen by Louise Gluck for the American Poetry Review/ Honickman First Book Prize and was published by Copper Canyon Press.  Read more about Levin and some of her poems at these addresses: [Hear her read "Smoke" at this address.]


Welcome to new members:
       Velvet Fackeldey, Pat Laster, and Judy Young.

(Velvet Fackeldey)

You tell your lies day after day
and think I'm just a stupid fool.
But I see through that act so cool
although it took a while to say,
"Please leave me now, just go away."
It takes some time for strength to grow,
but it will come, that I now know,
so I could flee this trap you set.
What seemed like love was just a net
but now I'm free from your big show.

(Pat Laster)

abled, fairy tale facade cracks
ttacked by hurtful attitudes to shatter
Mythical bases of love and affection
n favor of Old Testament thou shalts:
Loneliness, isolation.  Live and let live
esterday's lyric, today's demand sharp as yucca.
ules masquerading as sacred law
Erode the event--adhesions weaken.
nity shudders under the hot breath of
Narrowed narcissism
gniting fears and remembered happiness.
Oughts, strong as oak, stain with
oxious judgmental decrees.

(Judy Young)

He caught a butterfly on his tongue,
Its wings powdering his words,
Soft and colorful,
Folding and unfolding,
Careful and deliberate
So that we could hear their beauty
Before it fluttered away,
Trailing off into the darkened room,
Leaving us mesmerized by their power.

(Poem found by Todd Sukany
in USA Today, Oct. 2, 2001)

I still have,
and my family understands,
an itch.

What am I doing now?

Trying to get that last scratch
so I don't have to worry about that itch anymore.

What am I doing now?

If you guys don’t know by now,
I'm not afraid to take on a challenge.

What am I doing now?

I'm sitting back welcoming the challenge.
If I fail, I fail.

(Bev Conklin)

Why does she need the approval of others
and live in fear of their disdain?
Everything she does must be better
than anyone else could sustain.

Of course, she doesn't do a lot of things--
one can't try something new
and in the process of learning
do better than everyone else, too.

Now, I watch her world grow smaller
as more things change each day.
She just refuses to notice
and does what she knows, her way.

She's the permanent, perpetual pessimist--
new or different can never be right.
Optimism for her is unreachable
in a world that's all black or all white.

(Wesley Willis)

Through high hillsides and low valleys
His feet leave famed woods lore,
Tall tails told all night by campfires
Just beyond night's backdoor.

The deer would say his odor's strong
And fleeting speed evades this captor;
Over forest floor, fast creatures escape
Just beyond night's backdoor.

Among slow shadows of the evening
While upstream, frogs croak on the shore,
Bold Big-Foot comes along enraged
Just beyond night's backdoor.

The shadows hide his searching quest
For females--he wants more--
By moon he's free, by sun enslaved
Just beyond night's backdoor.

Asleep by the campfire burning low,
We wake, then nod, then wake once more
To see there by the fire Big-Foot
Just beyond night's backdoor!



(Gwen Eisenmann)

Black bear crossed the road.
I laughed all the way home.
    My neighbor said
    while we were gone
    she parked in our driveway
    to see a bobcat and three kits.
    Two kits followed the mother
    but one turned back.
    Soon the mother
    went back too,to
    collect the wrong-way baby.
Why is it an event
to see wild animals
going their way,
spending their day
in tune?

(Jean Even)

The wind caught her mane
As she took flight in vain.
The Pegasus, poorly adjusted
To the strange equine society,
Took flight from the ill-mannered herd.
The noble steed in hostility stated,
"The consensus of the populace:
In our fertile grazing place, 
There's no place for hideous Pegasus."

Long into the nights and far into the days
She searched for her kind along the way.
Her true love awaited in a mystical place,
Taken there a long time ago in a misty haze
When legions took them, fading into the past.
She had been on a quest to find a magic maze.
In its center she would discover her trousseau,
Designed especially for her beloved beau,
Who now waited in an infinite brume.

The maladjusted Pegasus, growing faint,
Landed in a green meadow quite quaint.
She ingested foliage of delectable cuisine,
Unaware of the mist surrounding her tired bones.
Lulled into the lethargy of sweet dreams,
She roamed valleys and hillsides of colorful tones,
Free at last from her quest to find her trousseau.
In the maze, driven by desire to be with her beau,
She could feel her coat change, turn sleek, shiny.

On she went, wind blowing her through the maze, 
Madness threatening her almost into a daze.
She went on until she thought she would faint.
Tempered in a refiner's fire, her beau to find.
Into the whirlwind she flew till light broke through.
There in the maze stood others of her kind,
Awaiting her entrance as the bride of their king.
She approached center as the bevy closed the ring,
In wedding celebration, they danced for days.

(Harding Stedler) 

In the dark cold
of December
as I sleep,
the universe
will age another year.
the world will start
anew its calendar journey
through the cycle
of changing seasons.
My pilgrimage
will take me to new places,
afford me new friends,
and add more gray
to my thinning sideburns.
The new year will start
in a blaze of optimism,
a clean slate,
and a renewed zest for life.
I will walk bridges
between what was and is
and worship each day's sun
as though it were the last.

(Tania Gray)

I'll tell you what's scary
is some of these flea markets
you can get lost in there
and what's worse is the people you meet
you could end up in a dusty corner
with a derelict a real tough a hard-edged outlaw
some kind of primitive throwback
boy I've skedaddled out of some flea markets
as fast as I could go
without crashing into someone's cafe dinnerware
got in my minivan and peeled out of the parking
no bargain is a bargain
if it's in an alien camp

(Tom Padgett)

When I was very young, my mother
made me change my clothes and wash my face
and stand before her while she combed my hair,
and several times she told me
cleanliness is next to godliness,
by which she meant Life's greatest good.

When she was very old, my mother
needed help to change her clothes and wash her
and stand before the mirror to comb her hair,
and several times she told me
dizziness is next to nausea,
by which she mean Life's greatest evil.


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