Vol. 5, No. 5       An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society     May 2006



Among the advantages we have as poets are the other poets we meet.  Today there may be some poets like Emily Dickinson writing away in the attic or some other private place, but there are definitely many more poets publishing, contesting, and conferencing.  Many of us have just returned from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where we attended the Lucidity Retreat.  Everyone who attended made new friends and renewed old friends.  Most of us belong to local chapters of one of the states in the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.  We attend monthly meetings of these chapters and enter contests sponsored by local, state, and national organizations.  We also go to workshops and conventions.  The Lucidity Retreat is a favorite for most of us who have attended it..  Six members of Thirty-Seven Cents went this year: Pat Laster, Phyllis Moutray, Tom Padgett, Harding Stedler, Todd Sukany, and Mark Tappmeyer.  Five other poets who attended joined Thirty-Seven Cents: Pat Durmon, Ray Kirk, Steven Penticuff (pictured above, the one on the left), Diane Stefan, and Larry Thomas.  There were several members of other local chapters of the Missouri State Poetry Society at the retreat also.  Rhyme & Reason was represented by Carrie Quick and Eugene Shea; On the Edge was represented by Billy Adams, Faye Adams, Patsy Coulter, and Dorry Pease; Mountain View Poetry Society was represented by Dale Ernst; Second Tuesday by Curtis Goss; and Members at Large by Dena Gorrell, Marie Turner, Faye Williams Jones, and Ted Badger (who directed the retreat).  Three others who attended joined On the Edge while they were at the retreat: Madeline Queen, Charles Rickett, and Shirley Rickett.  Poets are rare birds of a feather who enjoy flocking together to fly a while above simple mortals.  Our next point of embarkation is the NFSPS meeting in San Antonio, Texas, in June, followed by the Missouri State Poetry Society's annual convention to be held in September in Bolivar, Missouri, again this year.  Linda Pastan and Walter Bargen are the featured poets of the Bolivar convention.  Other details about these meetings are available below in the current issues of our newsletters: STROPHES ONLINE and SPARE MULE ONLINE.
    --  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


Click News to see if this news column appeals to you.  Click Back on your toolbar to return here after finishing the column.


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


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


Our new state president, Dale Ernst, is encouraging us to enter the MSPS Summer Contest


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


Ted Kooser, current 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 on-line 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 053

Writing poetry, reading poetry, we are invited to join with others in celebrating life, even the ordinary, daily pleasures. Here the Seattle poet and physician, Peter Pereira, offer us a simple meal.

A Pot of Red Lentils

simmers on the kitchen stove.
All afternoon dense kernels
surrender to the fertile
juices, their tender bellies
swelling with delight.

In the yard we plant
rhubarb, cauliflower, and artichokes,
cupping wet earth over tubers,
our labor the germ
of later sustenance and renewal.

Across the field the sound of a baby crying
as we carry in the last carrots,
whorls of butter lettuce,
a basket of red potatoes.

I want to remember us this way--
late September sun streaming through
the window, bread loaves and golden
bunches of grapes on the table,
spoonfuls of hot soup rising
to our lips, filling us
with what endures.

American Life in Poetry: Column 055

A circus is an assemblage of illusions, and here Jo McDougall, a Kansas poet, shows us a couple of performers, drab and weary in their ordinary lives, away from the lights at the center of the ring.

What We Need

It is just as well we do not see,
in the shadows behind the hasty tent
of the Allen Brothers Greatest Show,
Lola the Lion Tamer and the Great Valdini
in Nikes and jeans
sharing a tired cigarette
before she girds her wrists with glistening amulets
and snaps the tigers into rage,
before he adjusts the glimmering cummerbund
and makes from air
the white and trembling doves, the pair.

American Life in Poetry: Column 054

Poet Ruth L. Schwartz writes of the glimpse of possibility, of something sweeter than we already have that comes to us, grows in us. The unrealizable part of it causes bitterness; the other opens outward, the cycle complete. This is both a poem about a tangerine and about more than that.


It was a flower once, it was one of a billion flowers
whose perfume broke through closed car windows,
forced a blessing on their drivers.
Then what stayed behind grew swollen, as we do;
grew juice instead of tears, and small hard sour seeds,
each one bitter, as we are, and filled with possibility.
Now a hole opens up in its skin, where it was torn from the
branch; ripeness can't stop itself, breathes out;
we can't stop it either. We breathe in.

American Life in Poetry: Column 056

When I complained about some of the tedious jobs I had as a boy, my mother would tell me, Ted, all work is honorable. In this poem, Don Welch gives us a man who's been fixing barbed wire fences all his life.

At the Edge of Town

Hard to know which is more gnarled,
the posts he hammers staples into
or the blue hummocks which run
across his hands like molehills.

Work has reduced his wrists
to bones, cut out of him
the easy flesh and brought him
down to this, the crowbar's teeth

caught just behind a barb.
Again this morning
the crowbar's neck will make
its blue slip into wood,

there will be that moment
when too much strength
will cause the wire to break.
But even at 70, he says,

he has to have it right,
and more than right.
This morning, in the pewter light,
he has the scars to prove it.


Begin your reading at the "official Paul Muldoon" web site:

There you will be greeted by a Muldoon poem (note the rhythm and the rhyme).  Scroll down to find
biography and bibliography and pictures of Muldoon.

Hear him read from his work at
Be patient during downloading of poems.  They take a little time.  Be sure to hear "The Loaf."

Check the News page for critical comment about his latest book.   There you will hear him
"the outstanding contemporary practitioner" of rhyme.

To get the British take on this Irish-born, U.S. resident, and winner of awards in Canada
as well, visit

To read his villanelle "Gathering Musrooms" and two other poems, visit

A humorous poem, "Symposium," built entirely of cliches is found at

Buy a book of  Muldoon's poetry at, or,

or at


Pat Durmon

and his single jingle are country gifts
you can count on. "He sings his happy
whip-poor-will off and on all night long
sometimes. "I figure he sings
till heís through," my Grandma Guffey
answered long ago as she gathered-up
her lying-down cottony gown
after Iíd climbed upon the feathery bed
and readied myself to snuggle up close
in my little nest beside her.

I thought back on her words
this morning when I heard our new
neighbors complain about a lack
of sleep and all the absurd, confounded
bird-singing at night around here.

They had tried to deter the night bird
by slamming doors and clapping hands.
It had not worked. They booed him
and hooted like owls until their tired
bodies could bear no more. The young
couple looked whipped-down
by a whippoorwill.

Somehow, it seems plain wrong to me
to even try to hush a bird
owning just one song.

Carla Kirchner

She once took things apart.
Kitchen timers, VCRs, assorted lawn care implementsó   
     each became smaller,
something unlike what once was, something easier to
     handle and control.
She took delight in every screw and spring, stroked each
     slender wire and string
until shiny scraps lay strewn about the carpet.

She once ran over a possum with her pickup.
Her first pass produced only a small jerk of the wheel,
left the creature intact, its feet waving wildly, its eyes still
So she rolled over it again until the tires kicked up bits of
     bone, segments of tail,
until possum pieces littered the pavement.

She once saw Robert twice a week.
She shaved off sprouts of his nose hair, the white globes
     of  both his knees,
the curl of his ear, the stalks of three fingers down to the
His flesh pared away in ropes of pallid pulp
until, like a turnip, he was gone.

She once wrote a poem.
Then she split a stanza, held each word to her ear to hear
     it shout,
rearranged the margins, uncovered buried adjectives and
played with verbs and voices cluttering the floor
until she was left with only paper.

Velvet Fackeldey

Our parents on the front porch,
cardboard fans from Bogart's Funeral Home
for air conditioning.
We're in our tent, a blanket over chairs,
and we don't mind the oven effect,
or playing tag and statue in the August sun.
No computers, no video games,
just lying in the grass
and laughing with my friends.


Nathan Ross

Our banter echoes from lack of furniture,
like comics of old we act, interact, and
steal a crowd of one, a visitor, the girl
of my housemate. Live laugher mocks
television, gratis we live like Saturday
Night Live. Each swift to comment and
twofold to laugh which bellows, staccato
for the neighborhood to manage. Coffee
and tea prolong our performance. Finally,
the curtain falls with a visit from the cops.


Phyllis Moutray

We can stand alone
   Though we don't like it.

We are whole alone
   Though we don't feel it.

Life goes on alone
   Though sometimes we don't wish it.

Mark Tappmeyer
ďAnd after the fire came a gentle whisper.Ē I Kings 19:12

Most want from God
a Niagara drenching
like you get upon
riding elevators
to the bottom
of the great falls
where you walk out into
tons of free-fall river.
You bow, lose your gibber
in the roar and wonder why
you bothered with the yellow slicker.

But what most get
more often
is a chintzy
August drop,
which you learn
will suffice,
for God drenches with
the small and odd.

Henrietta Romman

Far greater is He who is in me,
Far greater than my vanquished enemy.

This way and that he peers and sees
God's true children upon their knees,

A wild, roaring lion who hunts his prey,
Seeks to devour him before he can pray.

Only through Redemption is rescue clear,
Only through God's Word we faithfully hear.

We know the triumph that's ours in life.
Jesus fought our battles, won all our strife.

Sing with great glory, rejoice with His praise,
Shout "HE IS COMING SOON," your banners raise!

Tom Padgett

I sat beneath the tulip tree
absorbing Keats in ecstasy
but looked up from my book
when ruffling wings distracted me.

Departing from the birdbath's rim,
a robin chose a nearby limb
to preen with lordly mien,
affording me full view of him.

Suffused by sentiment, I sensed
communion with this feathered prince
and knew he felt It too,
this bonding Spirit so intense.

And sure that he must understand
what Someone guiding us had planned,
I gave a welcome wave
for him to come perch on my hand.

I thought this way we could convey
all that we felt yet could not say--
but he, rejecting me,
just shook his head, and flew away.





Laurence W. Thomas

Coming out of the butcher shop
discover a ticket still trembling
under your windshield wiper
because in your rush you parked
a foot from the curb. One inch
closer would have made the difference.
One inch farther away, and going slower,
you would have missed the rear-view mirror
on the Taurus, and you and the owner
wouldnít have gone at it like bulls
arriving with tickets in hand. Proceed
home to a mailbox of brochures and bills,
immerse your shanks in bubbly hot water
and simmer until dinner is ready.

Diane Auser Stefan

The mist inches up the hill,
gently blurring every branch, every blade.
For an hour the view from my window is dreamlike.
Then the sun, also inching, comes with hot magic
chasing the mist away.

But wait!
Trapped in tall and wild growth
remnants of the mist remain.
How, with sunís heat all around?
So, down I venture, down, down the hill
to see how mist by sun was missed.

And there ethereal, fragile weeds I see,
real touchable, living, breathing, growing.
Weeds, yes--yet always trapped mist to me.

Valerie Esker

The butterfly--a wise and quiet thing
When at her daily work she kisses flowers.
Bright butterfly is what I'd like to be.
Crass cricket creaks and loudly twangs his string;
Throughout the sleepless night, he shouts for hours.
(Why can't he drowse like me, nocturnally?)
Smart butterfly has this philosophy,
That silence in its subtle way empowers
The one who grasps its meaning, deep and true.
Should sunny day digress to drenching showers,
Then under glossy leaf you'll see her cling,
Not uttering one dark or gloomy view,
Just fluttering her optimistic hue
While waiting for the joy the sun will bring.

Gwen Eisenmann

A yellow meadow spider waits upside down
on its web over impatiens under a window.
It has been there for days, always in the same place,
its zigzag perch precise architecture in space.

The web is attached by one long strand
to our roof where it shelters the window,
and by downward strands to flowers below
where insects come, unaware.

How does a spider stay healthy like that,
perfectly still for hours, and why upside down
on a vertical web in weather and wind
doing nothing but waiting? Does it sleep?

Yesterday a pale yellow butterfly hung there
unmoving, probably dead, while the spider
wrapped the butterfly's body. To ripen?
I wonder what happened to the wings? Perhaps

they fell away among the flowers like other petals.
One of these days I'll touch the web.
But the spider is beautiful with yellow stripes and dots
that make a harlequin out of a black danger.

Jean Even

The calves of my lips
Are but scrawny and dips
Into a black chasm
So deep itís hard to raise 'em.
Please, help me to grow
Fruit of thanksgiving to sow
Unto Your holy name just so.
Itís the reason Iím prone
Before your Holy throne
To confess Iíve thrown
Away my pride and sins.
I want to begin anew again,
The growing of healthy cows
For my lips to house
Such beautiful fruits in praise
As holy adoration to raise
Unto You, my God and King
In worship until it rings
And my voice doth sing.

Pat Laster

first day of May
child forgets to go barefoot
till Mom mentions it

university finals
not even the squirrels
on the walking trail

spring term ended
but campus still noisy
jackhammer, backhoe

white when I picked it
but yellow this morning
honeysuckle bloom

bugging me
the small brown butterfly
on my arm

the prom knight
and his lady
dressed in chain mail

hot southern May
five inches of rain
then the tree frogs


Harding Stedler

By aliens, two ripe grapes
in the San Juaquin Valley
of California were overheard
in whispered conversation.

In the waning weeks of summer,
they talked about growing old . . .
and wrinkled. They knew too well
the fate of older brothers, who,
when withered, were boxed
and sold as raisins.
This, they did not want.
They did not like the dark
of sealed containers, nor refrigerators
that would set them shivering
their way through death,
nor human predators
that would devour them
in midnight snacks.

Proud to be grapes,
they preferred the touch of wind
swaying them in clusters,
outdoors in open space.
They preferred to remain firm,
suspended from the vine,
surrendering only to mockingbirds
in days before the wrinkles.