THIRTY-SEVEN CENTS
Vol. 5, No. 10       An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society     October  2006

                                                                                                                                                                       (c) FreeFoto.com

THE ROAD TAKEN

When he was living in England, Robert Frost had a friend who delighted in showing him the local sights they visited on walking trips.  However, there was one drawback to their fellowship, for almost every time after their jaunt, the friend would slap his forhead and lament, "I should have taken you to see the view from the heights or above the cove or below the chalk horse on the down."   Or this or that.  Frost enjoyed what they did see and assured his friend that other sights could be visited another day, but other days came, other sights were seen, and still the friend found fault because if they had taken another road, they could have seen still another sight.  A few years later, Frost wrote "The Road Not Taken" to capture this universal feeling that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.  There are several popular interpretations of this simple poem that make it complex indeed, but Frost placed his emphasis upon the road taken, not the road not taken.  One application we can make concerns our journey as poets.  For some reason we started on this road.  For some reason there is much to be gained by continuing on this road.  For some reason as poets we can find beauty on our road.  Other beauties on other roads can be saved for later.  Celebrate the road you are on today.  --  Tom Padgett

 

CONTENTS:

Past Issue Next
       
Poems by Members
         
Workshop

Missouri State Poetry Society

Winter Contest

Spare Mule Online

National Federation of State Poetry Societies
 
Strophes Online


POETRY IN THE NEWS

Charles Wright [see poet of the month below] calls himself a "God-fearing agnostic," according to Joel Brouwer in a review of Wright's new collection Scar Tissue.  Read a summary of the review here.

What is Seamus Heaney up to these days?  Click here to see how his latest collection stacks up, according to Brad Leithauser?
What is the latest book by the newest national poet laureate? 

Read parts of Dan Chiasson's review of Donald Hall's White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems. 1946-2006.  Click here.

Was Narcissus a poet?  How self-obsessed are poets by their nature?  Read this essay on Paul Zweig, who defended self-obsession twenty-five years before it became the cultural thing to do.

Have you discounted much contemporary poetry as too obscure to occupy your time?  How do you distinguish subtle poetry from difficult poetry?  Read this review of Elizabeth Bishop's latest book for help.

How important is poetry in your life?  Would you like to know how several Americans responded to this question in a recent poll?  Click here to see.

Click Back on your toolbar to return here after finishing the column.
 

HAVE YOU VISITED THE WORKSHOP LATELY?

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

HAVE YOU READ YOUR ONLINE NEWSLETTERS?

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

HAVE YOU ENTERED A MSPS CONTEST RECENTLY?

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

HAVE YOU SEEN THE BULLETIN BOARD LATELY? 

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

AMERICAN LIFE IN POETRY

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 073
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006

Those of us who have planted trees and shrubs know well that moment when the last spade full of earth is packed around the root ball and patted or stamped into place and we stand back and wish the young plant good fortune. Here the poet Roy Scheele offers us a few well-chosen words we can use the next time.

PLANTING A DOGWOOD
Roy Scheele

Tree, we take leave of you; you're on your own.
Put down your taproot with its probing hairs
that sluice the darkness and create unseen
the tree that mirrors you below the ground.
For when we plant a tree, two trees take root:
the one that lifts its leaves into the air,
and the inverted one that cleaves the soil
to find the runnel's sweet, dull silver trace
and spreads not up but down, each drop a leaf
in the eternal blackness of that sky.
The leaves you show uncurl like tiny fists
and bear small button blossoms, greenish white,
that quicken you. Now put your roots down deep;
draw light from shadow, break in on earth's sleep.

American Life in Poetry: Column 075
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006



In many American poems, the poet makes a personal appearance and offers us a revealing monologue from center stage, but there are lots of fine poems in which the poet, a stranger in a strange place, observes the lives of others from a distance and imagines her way into them. This poem by Lita Hooper is a good example of this kind of writing.

LOVE WORN
Lita Hooper

In a tavern on the Southside of Chicago
a man sits with his wife. From their corner booth
each stares at strangers just beyond the other's shoulder,
nodding to the songs of their youth. Tonight they will not fight.

Thirty years of marriage sits between them
like a bomb. The woman shifts
then rubs her right wrist as the man recalls the day
when they sat on the porch of her parents' home.

Even then he could feel the absence of something
desired or planned. There was the smell
of a freshly tarred driveway, the slow heat,
him offering his future to folks he did not know.

And there was the blooming magnolia tree in the distance--
its oversized petals like those on the woman's dress,
making her belly even larger, her hands
disappearing into the folds.

When the last neighbor or friend leaves their booth
he stares at her hands, which are now closer to his,
remembers that there had always been some joy. Leaning
closer, he believes he can see their daughter in her eyes.
 

American Life in Poetry: Column 074
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006

Of taking long walks it has been said that a person can walk off anything. Here David Mason hikes a mountain in his home state, Colorado, and steps away from an undisclosed personal loss into another state, one of healing.

IN THE MUSHROOM SUMMER
David Mason

Colorado turns Kyoto in a shower,
mist in the pines so thick the crows delight
(or seem to), winging in obscurity.
The ineffectual panic of a squirrel
who chattered at my passing gave me pause
to watch his Ponderosa come and go--
long needles scratching cloud. I'd summited
but knew it only by the wildflower meadow,
the muted harebells, paintbrush, gentian,
scattered among the locoweed and sage.
Today my grief abated like water soaking
underground, its scar a little path
of twigs and needles winding ahead of me
downhill to the next bend. Today I let
the rain soak through my shirt and was unharmed.







American Life in Poetry: Column 076
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
2004-2006

I'd guess we've all had dreams like the one portrayed in this wistful poem by Tennessee poet Jeff Daniel Marion. And I'd guess that like me, you too have tried to nod off again just to capture a few more moments from the past.

REUNION
Jeff Daniel Marion

Last night in a dream
you came to me. We were young
again and you were smiling,
happy in the way a sparrow in spring
hops from branch to branch.
I took you in my arms
and swung you about, so carefree
was my youth.

What can I say?
That time wears away, draws its lines
on every feature? That we wake
to dark skies whose only answer
is rain, cold as the years
that stretch behind us, blurring
this window far from you.




POET OF THE MONTH: CHARLES WRIGHT

For a brief biography and seven of his poems, including one in audio, visit http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/31.

For some criticism of one of his poems and a wild picture of Wright, visithttp://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/s_z/c_wright/c_wright.htm.

For a review of his Pulitzer Prize winning collection Black Zodiac, see http://www.nytimes.com/library/books/041698wright-poetry.html.

For a reading by Wright, visit
http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v3n1/features/wright_c_051704/wright_c.htm

For a review of Wright's latest book Scar Tissue, see Poetry in the News above on this page.

Buy a book of Wright''s poetry at  http://www.half.com/, or http://www.powells.com/,
or at
http://www.amazon.com/ . 


POEMS BY MEMBERS

KNICKERS
Bev Conklin

Knickers are
pants that stop
at the knee.

Why, you ask.
I donít know.
You tell me.

Maybe they
ran out of
cloth to sew.


SATURDAY AT THE VFW
Pat Laster


parking-lot
attendant greeting
each widow with a kiss

Julliard-degreed
she does the two-step
with aplomb
 
out-of-state Reserves
sample the local scene
moon a chaperone
 
bold redneck
teaching the dance instructor
a new step
 
popular band lures
woodsman to town
hounds in his pickup
 
old men sit and smoke
dreaming of other such nights
--the jitterbug

lonely in a crowd
lovers clinging
to saxophoneís wail

band sounds recede
as frog croaks louder
going home early--alone
 

BETWEEN THE COW--AND HEAVEN
Steven Penticuff

A certain Slant of dark
there is, when tendrest Meat
falls--headlong--through the Grill--
a Gasp--time stops its feet

on icy Tracks--the gods
look on, their unintended
Sacrifice consider--
Behold the lonely Kindred

human crying--with the Sop--
Divinity writ small in bones
and Flesh--and Cow writ large--
whose Moo--from Yonder--drones.
 

JOANN'S JARS
Velvet Fackeldey

Joann donated boxes of jars
for our church ladies' project.
Joann is short, thin, defnitely petite.
Her small hand grips the midget cane she needs
to help her size 4 feet shuffle across the floor.
Sparkly jewels hang from her tiny ears.
When she smiles or laughs,
her mouth is little.
The jars she gave us are fat quart jars,
the kind with a wide mouth.
They are the opposite of Joann.


OUR LINES ARE BUGLY BROKEN
Valerie Esker

Our lines are bugly broken,
all out-skayed at the ends.
They pick up only tokens
of whitsey zizibends.

You used to call me ďhundlyĒ
while we snuddled on the tuv
and you brought me pretty soflins
when you be-felled your love.

But now you skant the whitseys
after turning off the cleep.
You fall kazonk and brattle
so loud, I cannot sleep.

You used to stroke my cresses
and squeeze my ample belse.
Oh, now you never do that.
Could there be someone else?

Iíve cooked your favírit pak-pots
and remained your bangrous friend,
but our lines stay bugly broken.
Iím afraid this is . . . the end.



SIXTY WATTS AND WIDOWED
Harding Stedler

Ten years of luminescent bliss
ended peacefully last night
when the fragile bulb burned out.
I felt helplessly alone
in the unexpected darkness
after years of never fearing
that I would one day be widowed.

Sixty watts was my companion
of the night,
ever faithful as I penned
my late-night words,
then saved them on the hard drive.
Not only my companion,
but my protector
when all but prowlers slept.

I mourned its passing
like I would a friend's,
placed it in a darkened tomb
where it could journey
through eternity
and never have
to light my way again.

 

 

 


VISIT WORKSHOP FOR AN ASSIGNMENT.

 TopWorkshopIndex

 

 

 




THE SMELL OF RAIN POEM
David Van Bebber

I like the smell of rain,
the refreshing scent,
the earth getting an encouraging pat on the back
for its hard work.
Sometimes in the spring after it rains
I wish I could travel back in time

to the eruption of this life giving flow.
Running like child on a play ground,
I would charge towards puddles in the downpour,
letting the cooling warmth of the droplets
soak through my clothes,
quenching my thirsty soul.
I would breath in the cleansing air
to drown my tired sprit.

Going back to when it began, I could soak it all in.
But for now the smell works
to renew my mind, my inner being.
And thatís the smell of rain.


I MISS THE COWS
Pat Durmon

The meadow where the Black Angus
walked on all fours and fed freely
have gone from the valley.
They were directly across the river
from my porch .

How I miss them not being here
on the scene. They belonged
and fit wonderfully well
with the dirt road, butterfly weed
the Queen Anneís lace, and dragonflies.

Some realtor bought the ground
to create suburban concrete
and tidy lawns with Bradford pears.
I wonder if he knows
the Little Dipper is not for sale
and the stars need to stay put.

RAIN
Judy Young

It rained today.
Drops fell from a water filled sky,
Black and torrid.
But the setting sun scooted
Under the clouds,
Defying them with her brilliance,
Turning the grasses
And the air
And the wet tarmac
Gold and silver.
And the raindrops splashed
And shimmered,
Flipped and flopped
On leaves,
And rocks
Petals and puddles,
Like goldfish out of water.


TYPES OF STRIPES
Brent McCune & Nathan Ross

Stripes make
refs thin,
thieves thick,
and Charlie Brown
drunk.


IT'S RAINING
Laurence Thomas
--After Jean Cocteau

I donít ask for much.
I donít dare ask for more
because you wonít allow it
but when you are close to me
I think I should ask.
Your look says it all.
It isnít your mouth, only, that speaks.
Your eyes are transparent as glass
which one can see through
but closing them makes it difficult.
I listen through my eyes
for answers impossible to hear.
I can accept the pain
but when I look through your eyes
the sun doesnít shine because itís raining.
Let us weep together.


AGILITY ABILITY

Diane Auser Stefan

I walk up the eight red steps,
stop on each to let
my left foot catch up
with my right

I remember running, sometimes
two steps at a time going up
or flying down three
up and down the red steps

in and out the blue door
year after year after year
from my days of baby-step-climbing
through todayís hard-breathing,
wheezing octet obstacle

aging, changing gait up eight
 

THE POET'S GARDEN
Tom Padgett

His poem is a paradise in which he plants,
cultivates, dresses, trims as he sees fit.
Within the walls of form, he sows some seeds
in rows four to six feet long for the flowers
of his mind.  Ideas germinate and grow
to decorate a sunny spot.  Usually,
he is pleased, but sometimes he is not.

Other times he sticks a sprig of vine
into the earth and lets it run,
luxuriantly carrying concepts where
it will.  Often he takes the cruel
pruning knife and shapes a thought
for fashion or comprehension, or both.

Around the edges, in the fence rows,
what once were scraggly twigs of sprawling
saplings providing no philosophic shade,
now are chubby shrubs or leafy trees
efficiently screening ripening beliefs
from withering exposure to glaring sun.

In this Edenic garden he works, unashamed,
naming, reaping, marketing, naked to
the consequence of overzealous inquiry,
partner to poetic comrades, wary of
the serpent Sloth.  In the cool of the evening
he listens for the still small voice that signals
time for fellowship along the garden path
when he will show his work and celebrate
the fruits afforded by the Muse of Creation.