Vol. 3, No.6       An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society      1 June 2004


When I first saw this picture that Phyllis Moutray sent me of an example of the art of handpainting, I didn't recognize the globe the hands were forming until I saw Florida on the lower index finger.  Then I caught on.  Of course, I thought immediately of the spiritual "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," and soon I was running off into the concept of creation, recalling someone's comment that we humans are most like God when we create--when from an idea of ours a form is shaped and an entity that never existed before except in the mind becomes "flesh" with its own identity. A spiritual entity becomes a physical identity.  A related image is one as old as the Greeks at least, the wind chimes analogy of inspiration wherein divine wind blows through the artist (the wind chimes) to create music.  Whichever description suits you better--the Old Testament's or the Greek myth's--you surely can sense the power of the poet to take the world in hand and make it a different place, different by at least another one of your poems.  But, before I leave the analogies, I should make the point that it is necessary to work together to change our world--few have done it alone.  Check the picture closely.  Unless I am mistaken, both of the hands are right hands.  Need a helping hand?                  -- Tom Padgett, Editor


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If you wish to purchase a copy of Grist, our state anthology, send Judy $8.50 at this address:   Judy Young, 6155 E. Farm Road 132, Springfield, MO 65802.  To meet the printing deadline, we ordered a few copies more than we had orders for, but to be sure and get one, you need to order yours soon.


Remember to read Spare Mule Online and Strophes Online by clicking on the CONTENTS menu above. You can keep up with members who get newsletters by mail by remembering to read them on the Net. The April 1 issue of Spare Mule Online and the April 1 issue of Strophes Online are both currently available to you..


Click on
Missouri State Poetry Society on the CONTENTS menu above. Then on the MSPS menu click on Bulletin Board for information about various poet societies, including contests they are sponsoring. 

Remember that September 1 is the deadline for our Summer Contest.  As members of MSPS you can enter two poems for the price of one entry.  Details are given on the Summer Contest page at the state web site.  Click here.


Visit the Academy of American Poetry at
for a brief biography and two poems: “Yesterday” and “My Friends.”  Because Merwin frequently uses no punctuation, it is especially helpful to hear him read his poems.  Hear him read “My Friends” at this site.

A brief article on Merwin and four of his poems—“Green River,” “Another River,” “Echoing Light,” “Remembering”—all of which you can hear him read are at

For critics' comments on several of Merwin's poems and also for Merwin on American poetry, visit

For Merwin’s listing in The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-century Poetry in English, visit

Finally, for a site with twenty-two poems by Merwin, including “Before the Flood," my favorite Merwin poem so far, visit


Velvet Fackeldey

My bones ache from loneliness.
My heart cries in abandonment.
I sob in the night with no comfort.
The days and the months and the years
pyramid to a pinnacle of pain.
I think I can't go on like this
with no respite from my hell.
But once again the dawn brings hope
that today will be different,
today will be better.
The hope is a lie,
and another dark night sucks me in
where I must battle once more
the thief of my sanity.
The days and nights are a haunted carousel
that never stops.

Valerie Esker

gold medallions

     one million melons
nine mealy lemons
     (no Emile Zolas)
. . . yellow onions
     laden gondolas
gray violas
     running grunions
grungy bunions
     great Gorgonzolas
moldy scallions
     so-o-o-o-o-o . . .
gold medallions
gold medallions     

Andrea Cloud

“Mommy, why are there leaves?”
the young boy asked while
raking them into rough piles.

“Because there are trees,”
she replied. “You see, when the
leaves die, they drop to the ground.”

“Mommy, why are there trees?”
he asked, confused even more
seriously about his surroundings.

“So we can breathe,”
she answered. “The trees give us
oxygen that nourishes our bodies.”

“Mommy, why do we breathe?”
the boy persisted to question his mother,
not aware of his nagging behavior.

“So we can live,”
she stated. Her patience with the
situation was starting to slip.

“Mommy, why do we live?”
he asked without thinking,
still continuing his chores.

The mother was dumbfounded,
but paused for a minute before finally replying,
“So we can rake the leaves.”

Mark Tappmeyer

Poetry is pure beef
Made from forty cows
Boiled days and hours
To an essence.
Over low flame
Red flanks, rumps,
Broad shoulders, kidneys
Surrender their musk
To a herd history in broth.
One thick drop
Maddens the tongue.
Pure beef--
That's poetry!

Judy Young

I walk among the hills to know the spring
And breathe in hawthorn's breath its sweet bouquet.
I feel the sun's warmth to my shoulders cling
And leave its dappled spots along my way.

The redbud splashes color through the wood
And promises are made with newborn green
That hazes distant hillsides with its hood,
Protecting all that lies within this scene.

The winter season lends its solemn moods
When dailiness becomes an endless chore;
The barrenness in tones of gray intrudes
To make me feel that there is little more.

But when the breezes of the spring arrive,
I walk among the hills and feel alive.

Pat Laster

Oh, SS check, I pray you're not delayed:
My tacky plastic surgeon must be paid.
A lightning surge left television dead
(With Sega gone, the grandkids stay away).
My cataract removal looms ahead,
And new cell phone expenses came today.
My tacky plastic surgeon must be paid,
So SS check, I pray you're not delayed.

Gwen Eisenmann

Walking early on a country road,
I wonder where in poetry the beat
has gone that used to measure metric feet
as now I step in rhythm with a mode
of morning.  Everything's in motion: shine
on leaves, shadows moving underneath
tall trees, bumblebees, a cloud, my breath--
all this in measure, all a pulse, a sign
of Earth's sweet respirations.  Poetry
but speaks the words to tunes already there.
We even listen with a certain ear
anticipating what the phrase will be
that satisfies a longing in the heart's
primeval beat, a poet's counterpart.

Wesley Willis

I am a cowboy
Riding these plains that I love
With herds I deploy.

Just me and my horse,
I ride across the great range--
Wyoming, of course.

Stories tell the past
of cowboys, Indians, and
Wyoming's green grass.

Sandy trails, wind-blown,
once rumbled with buffaloes'
low guttural groan.

Swifter than gazelles,
antelopes of Wyoming
wandered distant trails.

For thousands of years
this land was Indians' home--
they lost it in tears.

The coyotes call
throughout this beautiful land,
the fairest of all.

The bald eagles glide
over sunset-reddened buttes
with confident pride.

Indians still talk
of mountain ranges and plains
their ancestors walked.

Cowboys, too, still sing
melodies in their hearts of
loving Wyoming.

Bev Conklin

Flashing, flitting gem of green
with ruby at your throat,
it's not an emerald I see
in your lovely shiny coat.

If I could cross an opal
with a milky green of jade,
then turn them into feathers,
I think I'd have it made.

No, that's not quite it--
the color's still too light.
The tip of each tiny quill
needs some malachite.

I'm going to miss you, little one,
when your leave for warmer climes.
Maybe soon I'll follow, trading
palms for snow-clad pines.

If I do, I'll look for you,
my feisty little flyer,
wondering how you made that trip
and never seemed to tire.

Todd Sukany

The apple falls not far from the tree
His sound is soft and supple

Seldom seen at razor's rim
A trove of treasures entombed

A lock may limit forbearing floods
Till time will worth reveal

Release your wealth--Yahweh's likeness
Golden heart in a silver frame

Tania Gray

If I had lived in Bishop Hill
Utopia of Reformed Swedes,
I’d had loved the camaraderie
But hate the regimented drill.

You had to work, and it was hard.
I might have been a dairy maid
Or planted corn just like a serf.
There was no time to be a bard.

Some said all should be celibate,
But cradles multiplied, and rooms
To hold more rocking chairs and beds.
They had a house to “batch” in, but

It was the smallest on the square.
The pews in church were hard, and all
The women sat together, ditto men.
There was no carpet, walls were bare.

‘Twas economics brought them down.
That, and murder, cholera, and greed,
And railroads and free enterprise.
The colony became a town.

Now Bishop Hill is one boutique
Of candles, herbs, and pottery.
The tower clock is broken, still.
Descendants give stray folks a peek.

They manufactured every need
And prospered, built Victorian homes.
Of course they conquered cholera.
But still, alas, they have the greed.

Jean Even

I wish things would just settle down
Allowing dust to blow out of town,
Sending chaff sailing in the wind
While I burn chokeweeds to a singe.

Blowing out the pipeline blues,
Cruising down pot-hole avenues,
Falling in and going slow,
Sinking down from life's blows.

Bailing out of troublesome woes
Won't take me down to toe jam rows.
Humdrumming for pity's sake hurts
While drowning in a craft full of jerks.

Rolling out of tumbling weeds,
Landing on my knobby knees,
Crawling along and dreaming of seeds,
Sunshine is warm--I'll drink some tea.

Wishing things would settle down,
Going slower in our urban towns,
Taking time to grow some flowers
In a plot where stinkweeds sour.

Bailing out and blowing horns,
Cruising along in harmony drone,
No longer blue in sunshine hours,
I'm filling pot holes with wild flowers.

Phyllis Moutray

Steely octogenarian--
though vision and hearing impaired--
still family critic and champion.

Harding Stedler

The silence does not seem
half-bad in the absence of your clutter.
Gradually, I reclaim space
once filled with plunder,
rooms in which I could not walk,
piled garage-sale-high
with stuff you'll one day sell.

How I dealt with clutter
was to close the doors
and shrink my living space.
My house became your house
because I did not want
a confrontation
while you were rising
from the ashes.
You needed badly to discover
for yourself the disarray
you brought upon my structured world.

In your new life,
you have no one else
to answer to,
and I will never know
the extent of
clutter in your space.

Tom Padgett

The waif beside me on the Dublin train
stared out the dirty window, lost in thought.
The man across from us began to eat.
I got the candy from my carry-on
and offered some to Paul, who took a piece,
then two, then three--and talked from that time on.

This seasoned ten-year-old reached in his sack
for crisps to share: “I’ve been two weeks gone from
me home. The second week seemed like a moonth,
I missed me family so. Thair’s five of oos,
ploos mum and da. Whair I have bin, thair’s twelve--
I thought I’d never git me tairn to wash.”

A puppy learning dog-like ways, this lad
expanded with the knowledge he had gained:
“Me ooncle--whair I bin--he says to me,
‘Thair’s minny good min tairn out bad whin bills
air due.’ He fixes cairs, and they don’t allus pay.
‘You have to watch, our Paul,’ he says to me.”

“You changing trains in Dooblin? Well, you need
to watch them taxi min. Me fadder woons
in Liverpool was overchairged. ‘Do I
look stoopid?’ he joost said, and paid his fare--
no moor. You lairn a boonch away from home!”

Then three of us--much smarter dogs--detrained. 


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