Vol. 8  No. 3    An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society    March 2009

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              @ Free


Can you remember when you turned on your television set and heard about something other than the economy?  There was a time, we tell ourselves, when we lived our lives sometimes for a whole day without reference to bail-outs, budgets, and gross national products.  There was such a time--really, there was a world where values included values other than monetary values.  Can you now  imagine a world where money metaphors died, as when the word gold became most frequently used as a color, not money?  "All that glitters is not gold" began as a literal reminder to miners that pyrites, "fools gold," out-sparkled the real thing.  But the real thing changed to become the subject of an aphorism that told us we shouldn't judge by external appearance only, that we should evaluate people by character, we should consider jobs by more than salary, and so on.  Poets have for centuries emphasized such "otherness."  Now perhaps more than any time during our lifetime, we will find reasons to escape to the world of poetry, both the reading and the writing of it. In fact, if the television messages are right, the poet's world may soon be the only world we can afford.. -- Tom Padgett


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Poems by Members

Missouri State Poetry Society


Summer Contest

Spare Mule Online

National Federation of State Poetry Societies
Strophes Online


  John Barr, president of the Poetry Foundation, recently sent his annual report to all subscribers of Poetry magazine.  Because it is interesting for all poets, I have duplicated it here.

Click Workshop and do some of the lessons there.
If you have an idea for a new lesson, send it along. 

Spare Mule Online and Strophes Online available by clicking the underlined titles.

Our state president is encouraging us to enter the MSPS
Summer Contest

Visit our MSPS Bulletin Board for news of events and contests in our area.


For an encyclopedia artcle on McGinley, go to

For four of her poems visit

For some others of McGinley's light verses, see,9171,857496,00.html

For one of her poems, see

For a recent New York Times article on McGinley, visit

For the Academy of American Poets' page on McGinley, visit

For a Utah history web page on McGinley, see

For several "brainy" quotations by McGinley, go to



Ted Kooser, former U. S. Poet Laureate, in response to an interviewer for National Public Radio, stated that his "project" as laureate was to establish a weekly column featuring contemporary American poems supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska.  This column appears in online publications (such as Thirty-Seven Cents) as well as hard-copy newspapers.  Poets are asked to contact their local newspapers to inform them that such a column is available free to them and to relieve the editor by explaining that all of the poems that will appear week by week are accessible, not obscure, poems. 

American Life in Poetry: Column 201

Don Welch lives in Nebraska and is one of those many talented American poets who have never received as much attention as they deserve. His poems are distinguished by the meticulous care he puts into writing them, and by their deep intelligence. Here is Welch's picture of a 14-year-old, captured at that awkward and painfully vulnerable step on the way to adulthood.

At 14

To be shy,
to lower your eyes
after making a greeting.

to know
wherever you go
you'll be called on,

to fear
whoever you're near
will ask you,

to wear
the softer sides of the air
in rooms filled with angers,

your ship
always docked
in transparent slips

whose wharves
are sheerer than membranes.
American Life in Poetry: Column 202

David Wagoner, who lives in Washington state, is one of our country's most distinguished poets and the author of many wonderful books. He is also one of our best at writing about nature, from which we learn so much. Here is a recent poem by Wagoner that speaks to perseverance.

The Cherry Tree

Out of the nursery and into the garden
where it rooted and survived its first hard winter,
then a few years of freedom while it blossomed,
put out its first tentative branches, withstood
the insects and the poisons for insects,
developed strange ideas about its height
and suffered the pruning of its quirks and clutters,
its self-indulgent thrusts
and the infighting of stems at cross purposes
year after year. Each April it forgot
why it couldn't do what it had to do,
and always after blossoms, fruit, and leaf-fall,
was shown once more what simply couldn't happen.

Its oldest branches now, the survivors carved
by knife blades, rain, and wind, are sending shoots
straight up, blood red, into the light again.



Gwendolyn Eisenmann

Snow is poetry, patterns people make
around their lives with what is given
fallen from Heaven, erasing plans in place.

We see it coming down, God-made to break
whatever wandering vision
fills our space. Snow can erase

all else with snowflake lace
like magic leaven
sprinkled from a winter's shake.


Laurence W. Thomas

The body grows as it rolls
into quite a respectable snowball
with a smaller roll placed on top.

Not quite what we wanted
we note as we finally heft
the head into place.

As kids, we made these.
Now, we can't find coal and
somebody steals the carrot. 

Faye Adams


She makes an early showing,
her warm breath blowing;
an Eastern sunrise glowing,
flowers up and growing.
Melted icebergs flowing,
men on tractors sowing;
loose dirt clods throwing,
barnyard roosters crowing.
Suddenly, it's snowing;
frosty winds now mowing.
Wily smile, all-knowing;
fleetingly, she's going.
Spring . . . such a tease


Pat Durmon

At first the family didn’t say a word
about her painted nails.

Instead, they walked on eggshells,
trying to get their bearings.  The nursing
home, new to all.  So, no missteps
were welcome.

Our mother asked a why-question.
Eggshells, all over the floor
and on the window sills—
fragmented and fragile.  Stunned,
each son, each daughter
negotiated delicate footsteps.
No place to stand without driving
those fine white daggers into shoes.

But when someone made mention
of her nails, she looked down at her hands
like she might consider an August peach. 
She smiled, “My first time . . .”
Words of hope.

Diane Auser Stefan

breathless cold morning

ice imprisons each dark branch

and each blade of grass


like fringe on a shawl

icicles trim power lines

then snap and break down


tall trees bend to earth

treetops frozen tight to ground

held against their will


week without power

we live hard like pioneers

respecting their strengths


day-to-day living

stretches imaginations

for ways to survive


when power flows back

days ease yet daily struggles

not soon forgotten

Bobbie Craig

winds stir
clouds, create
jigsaw puzzle
pieces, rearrange
tomorrow's weathercast.
Snowflake confetti shimmers
in the tentative sun, glistens
on delicate white crocuses next
to vivid daffodils announcing spring.

Harding Stedler

The room was filled with revelers
bouncing laughter in varied decibels
off walls of painted cinder block.
In rhythms of sound
wrapped myself in ecstasy
and climbed
the invisible ladder of joy.
There, I made bows of laughter
to dangle from the ceiling
so we could dance our way
to night's end
and cradle the moon
in an elbow
of some distant galaxy.

b r e w

Dave Gregg

they met one night a week
for years in every weather
never missed a meeting
not one that I recall they
rarely ate just cups of joe
and hours of the staring
sometimes they spoke but
mostly not but never failed
to hear them and though
they hardly touched you
felt them through the walls
we tried to give them space
but they swallowed up a room
as menu, staff and patrons
changed they met to sip the
brew we called it "relationship
coffee" I'd kill for some right now

Pat Laster


My boyfriend's gone out with my baby.
"'Be back in an hour," he said. "Maybe.
"We'll ride three-three wheelers all over the snow,
slipping and sliding wherever we go."
Already today, they'd watched wrestling: Mid-South's,
with large plugs of Red Man filling their mouths.
They worked quite a while at building a sled.
"The snow is too slushy; it won't work," they said.
"Come with us," the boyfriend had nobly insisted.
"There's only one pair of boots," I resisted.
I guess the real reason I'm feeling so mean:
I'm competing with baby. She just turned fifteen!


Tania Gray

Of course, an octopus waves hi eight times,
tarantulas en pointe four pairs of feet,
a mirror with eight sides is good Fung Shui.
It used to be an 8th grade graduate
could step into an adult role.  It used
to be a box of eight Crayolas kept
a youngster happy quite awhile.  A set
of dishes ought to have eight plates and bowls
because the dinner table has eight chairs
and my old cookbook recipes serve eight.
The engine of our Mercury Marquis
is a V-8; and so’s the can of juice
of select vegetables.  The 8-track tape
is an antique; and you were cheating bad
if you won at canasta with eight cards.
But best of show for groups of eight-at-once
is California babies A through H;
octuplets came out kicking: number eight

was news to all.  These tots are vigorous;
it took a team of docs and nurses six
times eight to get them in their cribs.  I’m glad
I’m not the mom.  She won’t permit her name
to be announced.  But she can’t keep those kids
hush-hush or hidden under wraps: they’ll squeal!





Freeda Baker Nichols
New Member

The graying skies are dull as blotted ink,
The cellars dank and filled with spider webs
In Dixieland.  The peach trees bloom pale pink
Where Coats of Blue defeated Johnny Rebs.
When soldiers died in war’s red-spattered night,
Reluctant Rebels laid their weapons down.
Magnolia trees still bloom sweet-scented white
And Southern Belles still wed in satin gown.
The story Mitchell penned—the war its theme—
Gone with the Wind depicted spoiled coquette,
Who selfishly destroyed her treasured dream
And pouted then without her darling Rhett.
   The South, like Scarlett, never really died
   But kept its inner strength with stubborn pride.

Dewell H. Byrd

A low rumble of thunder
stumbles over the cucumbers.
A soft spray tickles the hair
on my right arm.

I lean on the shopping cart,
one foot on the rear axle,
scan the greens and yellows
while my wife pokes and squeezes.

Despite her ritual I suspect
what I’ll be eating all next week
is written on that wad of coupons
clutched in her purse-hand.

In a small dark office over a warehouse
in Richmond, California, a dozen
potato-heads with cauliflower ears
wear green jackets with a red S on the pockets.

They lean back, smoke crooked celery cigars,
blow onion rings at the skylight,
plot my cuisine for next week.
Suddenly the Head Veg slams his palms

against the jicama table, shouts:
"I got it men!  We’ll issue a big yellow
special coupon for the weekend:

That’s what he’ll have for Sunday dinner."
A roar of approval thunders
through the Produce Rainforest.

Genesis 8:22
Jennifer Smith

Buds appear on flow’ring trees,
Crocus blooms about the yard,
Jonquils push up through the dirt--
Spring will once again be here.

Frisky squirrels build treetop nests,
Robins hop in garden plots,
E’en though snowbirds visit my deck--
Spring will once again be here.

Ol’ Sol shines a bit brighter each day,
He warms my heart if not the air.
One of these days it will be true--
Spring will once again be here.

God once said, “As long as earth endures
Seedtime, harvest . . . summer, winter . . .”
His promises are always true– 
Spring will once again be here.

Jeanetta Chrystie

The story started long ago
When evil sought to overthrow
God’s grand design for history—
Revealing Heaven’s mystery.

God came to Earth incognito,
A babe to battle mankind’s foe.
Poor Rachel weeps, evil’s high price
When Herod orders sacrifice.

The Christ escapes to other lands,
For God, you see, has other plans.
To Egypt in the dead of night,
Then Nazareth, to grow in Light—

In David’s land, of David’s line,
As prophesied, a King divine.
Again, the Foe tries to lay claim--
The upper hand in earthly reign.

Upon a cross he seeks to nail
A battered man, now weak and frail.
From top to hem, the veil is torn.
It’s for this reason Christ was born.

Soon from the depths of Hell we hear,
“See, Death is conquered, Life is here.”
Now Christ awaits with God above,
As we accept His Easter love.

Psalm 119: 11, 105
Henrietta Romman

Would I, Father, reverently bow my head
And openly break Your given rules
Like many faithless, godless fools
Who may think they clearly know You,
Father Lord?  Would I?

Would I, Father, ignore my purified heart
That is being tuned to You  instead,
Forgetting that You have ever bled
Knowing You would forgive me soon,
Father Lord?  Would I ?

Would I, Father, take the Holy Book in hand,
Consume it and get through it all the way
As each night turns into another new day,
Then carelessly follow the evil of the world,
Father Lord?  Would I ?

Would I, Father, walk in full faith, then praise,
Then form opinion of much hate and scorn
Leaving your Fatherly heart to be utterly torn
As you watch me throw away all Your love,
Father Lord?  Can I ?

Would I, Father, with closed eyes picture heaven
While my truly cleansed tongue lashes out
With wrongs and vice, violence and doubt
Yet stand before you with such great  piety,
Father Lord?  Would I ?

Would I, Father, counsel all who cross my path?
With words of caution that seem so right
Choosing to stress upon Your saving might
Still, an apparent plank sits snugly in my eye,
Father Lord?  Would I ?

Tom Padgett

On January 26,
this year, 2009,
a mother had eight babies,
and they are doing fine.
Two times before, octuplets born
had never all survived.
These tiny Californians
are very much alive.

Six boys, two girls shared
the single mother’s womb;
Home from the hospital,
they won’t have much more room.
She has six older children,
and all are under eight,
sired by her boyfriend,
whose part was to donate

some sperm of his to fertilize
her eggs again in vitro,
of which the doctor then implanted
six as embryos.
On its own one split apart,
and then another did,
The staff in the delivery room
found themselves outbid.

They bet on seven when they cut
and dubbed them A to G,
then H appeared surprising them
with Mom’s fecundity.
Her big surprise will come at home
as life she rearranges--
with eight more babies she can count
on changes, changes, changes.




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