Vol. 2, No. 3            An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society        1 March 2003



From early man's pictographs in caves, nature has been a subject for man's drawing, his art, for today we still mine our experiences in the natural world for subjects to write about.  The month of March, we are told, comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, or the opposite, March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion.  It seems we are never fortunate to have a lamb-lamb month, though we may this year encounter a lion-lion month.  As Bill Lower's fine picture of the flag caught in the wind and snow indicates, we are definitely in a lion month so far.  However it turns out, for our workshop assignment we are challenged to write a poem about nature, either free or rhymed verse (or blank verse, of course). Shakespeare used blank verse in the famous lines that have given us the expressing "whistling down the wind." In Act III of Othello he gave his tragic hero, Othello, an elaborate metaphor from falconry to express what his course of action will be if Desdemona, his wife, proves unfaithful to him: "If I do prove her haggard [untamable], / Though her jesses [short straps tying the leg of the hawk to its leash] were my dear heartstrings,/ I'd whistle her off [start the hawk on its flight] and let her down the wind, / To prey at fortune." Hawks were set off against the wind, for if they were allowed to start with the wind behind them, they never returned, and from that time shifted for themselves.  The falconer no longer had anything to do with a bird which he "whistled down the wind." See Lesson 5 in the workshop  for a much simpler treatment of the wind in poetry, then write your own poem about nature and send it to me.  You may, of course, send one you have already.  Old poems, either published or unpublished, are always welcome here.

--Tom Padgett, Editor      


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B. H. Fairchild has just won the National Book Critics Award for a book with a title almost as long as a haiku.  His Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest beat out books by Major Jackson, Harryette Mullen, Sharon Olds, and Adam Zagajewski.  Born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma and Kansas, he has a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Kansas and a Ph.D. from the University of Tulsa.  He first attracted national attention 1997 with The Art of the Lathe, which won the Kingsley Tufts Award, the William Carlos Williams Award,  and was a finalist for the National Book Award.  Fairchild now lives in Claremont, California, with his wife and daughter.  He is a teacher.  Billie Dee has said of his work: "He pushes the boundary between prose and poetry into a richly textured no-man's-land. He defies rules of grammar and punctuation, relying on rhythms of rambling conversation and yarn-spinning." You can read some of his poems and judge for yourself by visiting these sites:


(Jean Even )

A space to fill is a place to begin.
In the beginning there was a word.
How many words can fill a space
In a blank place where things begin?

In the space there is the depth
As deep as any imagination.
To fill the space is a dream;
Dreams that are made in depth.

Consider the width of a page.
Is it an inch, more than eight, or
As wide as the Universe in space?
Words explode across the page.

Space, the final frontier to explore,
Is unlimited by time and boundaries.
All begin at a place on a page
When someone begins to explore.

(Tammie Bush)

my skin is greedy
wants to soak up
each drop
of luminescent light
while my eyes
feast freely
on the glory
and my fingers
scribble quietly
on their own
the soft silence
of sunrise
broken only by
the gentle scratching
of pen on paper

(Gwendolyn Eisenmann)

O worm (which end do I bespeak?),
thou makest not a sound nor squeak,
but I forsooth would sing thy praise
and thank thee for thy quiet ways.
Thou eatest the earth, O squiggly worm,
and spitteth it out in curdly form
to fluffeth thy bed 'round flower feet
and aireth thy head in tunnely neat.
Thou'rt nothing but a strip and squirm,
no shape, no drape, unlovely worm,
but we without thee surely would die
so bless the earth wherein thee lie.
Ah crumbly soil! ah humusy deeps
wherein my wormy garden keeps
a secret scent distilled by thee.
O wiggly worm, abide with me.      

On a hilltop in the Ozarks
(Tania Gray)

As the ice receded it revealed a tiny white seashell
a startling anomaly in the frozen earth
an unbroken bowl turned up to receive alms of remembrance
and I remembered when our town was all under water
part of an ocean rich in intellectual delights
we were a great city known as "Atlantis by the Jack’s Fork"
a center of learning where scholars were respected
the arts flourished and culture ran ahead
people actually aspired to be noble
those were the good old days
then I remembered the great cataclysm
when the earth buckled and shuddered
land upended and settled back at crazy angles
like an overturned tray of party sandwiches
and we tried to resume living
everyone scrambled to make a living
fought for bits and pieces of land
brother swore vengeance against brother
everyone had to re-invent the wheel
forgetting all that went before
stifling and inhibiting thought
creating a desert among the pines
naturally it evolved into an ice age
specimens of humanity were frozen in time
locked in their hollows and valleys
the seashell gleams in the pale morning light
the seashell calls for attention

(Tom Padgett)

The corrugated fields await spring rains,
stobs of stalks from last year's crop protrude,
and piles of brush in fence rows clutter them
like jack straws tossed on table top for play.

The traffic fills the two-lane highway near,
people hurrying through their destined lives,
busy as corpuscles ferrying oxygen
in arteries for blood's emergencies.

At the window, the old man wonders who
will sing his song next year--until the glare
of morning sun on handlebars pulls him
outside to stand his grandson's fallen bike.


(Harding Stedler)

The months of songless days
are over.
You sing to me winged songs
and give me laughter.
My heavy heart is eased
by melodies that follow
all my footsteps.

Your conversations thrill me,
chatter breaking silence.
The chords I play for you
set you singing louder
and give my heart a song.

No longer does the minute hand
trudge through each day.
No longer am I prisoner
of the clock.

My time is feather-light,
in flight,
and I no longer know the hour.

(Wesley Willis)

Desert winds speaking Navajo,
Forgotten languages talk of winter,
Needled in the prickly pear,
Talking winds from the Tuscarawas.
Razor nights cut from the past,
Tarnished faces turn yellow,
Faces now returned to dust.
Crooked fingers pointing
To shadows on the ground,
Telling time from the sun,
Ravaging dreams of the past,
Showing the massacres,
With crimson blood streaming.
The winds of time
Still carry the past,
And a cry of a Navajo child
Lingers in the sand
From the ripening forgotten.

(Barbara Magerl)

Little birdies in the trees,
Your voices try to say to me
That this is Spring
And thus you sing.

But I say no,
It's really not--
It's Mother Nature
With a devious plot

To entice us, fool us,
Then play her cards
By sending blizzards
To blanket our yards.

(Todd Sukany)

an incisor's sheath
an amber window
of all life
on the way
to Gullet.
a maize thing.

(Bev Conklin)

I love to sit and read a book.

Regions I'll never get to see come to me.
Experiences of every kind are waiting to be shared.
Add the thrill of mysteries and spies in action.
Do the mundane realities of life hold this fascination?

Too hot to mow or weed in the yard, anyway!
Of course, I must change the cat box between chapters,
Or better, only 40 more pages to the end of part three.

Make myself do the dishes, at least--let's face it,
Unless guests are expected tonight, or in the morning,
Carpets won't be cleaned or mopping done . . .
Help, I have a full-fledged addiction!

(Darwyne Tessier)

I started this poem with nothing in mind--    
no purpose, no thought, no meaning to find.        
My normal routine, a late Sunday rite,           
is finish my timesheet by Friday midnight.

This poem assignment with arbitrary date
gave me more time to keep being late.   
The deadline I chose, working better under pressure,
was agreed to at last by my friend, the professor.

But by choosing today, I sealed my own fate--   
still, I gained extra time to procrastinate.  

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