Vol. 6, No. 9   An Online Chapter of Missouri State Poetry Society    September  2007



Most of our time is taken up with routines: eating, brushing our teeth, sleeping, getting the mail, walking the dog, and so forth.  Some of these routines find their way into our poetry.  Several of you, for example, have sent me dog-walking poems.  Other pets come in for their share of attention--we have heard about Larry Thomas's companionable cats and the demanding birds Bev Conklin feeds.  Still other pets remain undocumented.  In the English department where I taught for many years there was a woman on the faculty who kept an iguana in her bathtub, yet as far as I know, no one made a big deal (or even a poem) about it.  What about your routiines?  Getting your hair cut?  Or your car greased?  Have you written a poem about your mailman?  We poets are aware that we can keep experiences we write about.  Perhaps we need to remember to write about (and hence keep) our routines, since they are so much of our lives.  And to think, we are not even limited to telling the truth!  Poetic license allows us to make interesting art from our routines.  In the English department where I taught for many years there was a woman on the faculty who kept a fire-eating dragon in her bathtub.  Then she married our mailman, threw out the dragon, and kept the mailman in her bathtub.  See what I mean?  Give it a try.  --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


Charles Simic is our nation's new poet laureate to succeed Donald Hall.   Simic's work is problematical since much of it is surrealism.  However, he has some poems everyone can appreciate.  The Week magazine for August 17, 2007, reprinted his short poem "Watermelons."  Here is the complete poem: "Green Buddhas / On the Fruitstand / We eat the smile / And spit out the teeth."

John Ashbery has been named MtvU's poet laureate.  This is an exclusive network designed for college students.  Ashbery, who is 80 years old,  was a surprising winner.  His early poetry was very difficult to understand; now it is more accessible.  Read the New York Times story at

Lev Grossman in the June 18, 2007, issue of TIME discusses the $200 million gift of Ruth Lilly to Poetry magazine.  Grossman asks if this huge gift can revive a "dying art."  Read Grossman's article at,9171,1630571,00.html

Click Back on your toolbar to return here after finishing a news item.

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 by clicking the underlined titles.

Our state president is encouraging us to enter the MSPS
Winter Contest.

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


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 on-line publications (such as Thirty-Seven Cents) as well as hard-copy newspapers.  Poets are asked to contact their local newspaper editors to inform them that such a column is available free to them and to relieve the editors by explaining that all of the poems that will appear week by week are accessible, not obscure poems. 

American Life in Poetry: Column 121

A large white umbrella blown into the street and an aproned waiter rushing to the rescue.  A poem need not have a big subject, but what's there does need to add up to more than the surface details.  Notice the way this poem by Mike White of Utah moves beyond realistic description into another, deeper realm of suggestion.

Mike White

Not a remarkable wind.
So when the bistro's patio umbrella
blew suddenly free and pitched
into the middle of the road,
it put a stop to the afternoon.

Something white and amazing
was blocking the way.

A waiter in a clean apron
appeared, not quite
certain, shielding his eyes, wary
of our rumbling engines.

He knelt in the hot road,
making two figures in white, one
leaning over the sprawled,
broken shape of the other,
creaturely, great-winged,
and now so carefully gathered in.

American Life in Poetry: Column 123

There is a type of poem, the Found Poem, that records an author's discovery of the beauty that occasionally occurs in the everyday discourse of others. Such a poem might be words scrawled on a wadded scrap of paper, or buried in the classified ads, or on a billboard by the road. The poet makes it his or her poem by holding it up for us to look at. Here the Washington, D.C., poet Joshua Weiner directs us to the poetry in a letter written not by him but to him.

Joshua Weiner

What makes for a happier life, Josh, comes to this:
Gifts freely given, that you never earned;
Open affection with your wife and kids;
Clear pipes in winter, in summer screens that fit;
Few days in court, with little consequence;
A quiet mind, a strong body, short hours
In the office; close friends who speak the truth;
Good food, cooked simply; a memory that's rich
Enough to build the future with; a bed
In which to love, read, dream, and re-imagine love;
A warm, dry field for laying down in sleep,
And sleep to trim the long night coming;
Knowledge of who you are, the wish to be
None other; freedom to forget the time;
To know the soul exceeds where it's confined
Yet does not seek the terms of its release,
Like a child's kite catching at the wind
That flies because the hand holds tight the line.

American Life in Poetry: Column 122

The chances are very good that you are within a thousand yards of a man with a comb-over, and he may even be somewhere in your house. Here's Maine poet, Wesley McNair, with his commentary on these valorous attempts to disguise hair loss.

Wesley McNair   

How the thickest of them erupt just
above the ear, cresting in waves so stiff
no wind can move them. Let us praise them
in all of their varieties, some skinny
as the bands of headphones, some rising
from a part that extends halfway around
the head, others four or five strings
stretched so taut the scalp resembles
a musical instrument. Let us praise the sprays
that hold them, and the combs that coax
such abundance to the front of the head
in the mirror, the combers entirely forget
the back. And let us celebrate the combers,
who address the old sorrow of time's passing
day after day, bringing out of the barrenness
of mid-life this ridiculous and wonderful
harvest, no wishful flag of hope, but, thick,
or thin, the flag itself, unfurled for us all
in subways, offices, and malls across America.

American Life in Poetry: Column 124

Here is a lovely poem about survival by Patrick Phillips of New York. People sometimes ask me "What are poems for?" and "Matinee" is an example of the kind of writing that serves its readers, that shows us a way of carrying on.

Patrick Phillips

After the biopsy,
after the bone scan,
after the consult and the crying,

for a few hours no one could find them,
not even my sister,
because it turns out

they'd gone to the movies.
Something tragic was playing,
something epic,

and so they went to the comedy
with their popcorn
and their cokes,

the old wife whispering everything twice,
the old husband
cupping a palm to his ear,

as the late sun lit up an orchard
behind the strip mall,
and they sat in the dark holding hands.


Our poet for this month is one of the featured speakers for the Missouri State Poetry Society's annual convention, September 28-29, in Crystal City, Missouri.  Details for this event are available at

For a general introduction to Hudgins, visit the Academy of American Poets site at
There are three Hudgins poems available at this site, including two he reads aloud to us.

His poem "In the Well" can be found at

"Elegy for My Father Who Is Not Dead" is at

Troy Teegarden's audio interview with Hudgins is at

Several of Hudgins' books will be available at the convention.  Others can be secured at


Tania Gray

We walked on cobblestones laid down by Turks,
we drank a bitter herb apéritif
under a café canopy outdoors,
we dined on specialties of Serbia—
all this while gypsy beggars shuffled by.
The private flat provided by our host
looked over red-tile roofs and varied trees,
the river Sava, and a heavy cart
a gypsy woman pushed, collecting things
she pulled from bins.  What residents put in
she added to her haul of cardboard that
would build a shelter in their shanty camp,
under the bridge that spans the Sava, by
the river’s edge, some hodge-podge huddled huts.
We walked on cobblestones laid down by Turks
and sipped a bottled Coca-Cola, ate
an apple pastry rolled in phyllo dough.
In Novi Sad, a gypsy, dragging feet
like clubs, shouted to all and moaned for alms.
Those gypsies move around, they beg, they steal,
and do whatever works for criminals,
our host explained.  They’re just part of the scene.
In Bohemian Skadarlija, we sat
where intellectuals discussed reform
a hundred years ago, and do today.
We walked on cobblestones laid down by Turks.

Diane Auser Stefan 

Damned Dandelions seems to be our name,

As we deep-rooted, wage the green grass game.

Not  many praise our independent drive,

Don’t see how on our own we can survive.

Each Spring begins the territory war

Led by gardeners who cry, “No More!”

If  only those who hate us, stopped to stare,

On our stems rest golden crowns so fair.

Now, look as children look--when you pass,

See us as sundrops scattered in the grass.

Nathan R

After it rains there’s a rainbow
and I feel a change, much the same way
my apartment must have in the progression
of my nursing her fragile frame.
Upon arrival I vowed to extract uncleanliness from
within her and around her foggy windows,
sunken floors, cracked ceilings.
The fan/air conditioner pair cool her,
reminding her to rest my couch without legs.
Soon she delights in Sunday traffic,
their wheels picking up recently  fallen clouds,
music only a century-old apartment
(and her physician) may enjoy as
she lets loose a liquid tap through the
ceilings of her mind.

A minute
Pat Laster

As I slipped through the pantry door,
you stood before
me, face to face:
a quick embrace,

a smile. You whispered, “Patience now;
someday . . . somehow.”
Despite the risk,
we dared to kiss.

Then passing to the drawing room,
I left the bloom
of love behind
for none to find.

Harding Stedler

The scissor-tailed flycatchers
cut me swatches of ripened green
for my memory book.
I will carry with me
keepsakes of each perfect swoop
in which they grazed
the foraging geese
deafened by an invisible breeze.

Something photogenic
about these birds
with overlapping tails
who pose for snapshots
by the sun.
The ivory of their feathers
and the curvature of their wings
wrap magic all the way around
the first dawn of July.

Laurence W. Thomas

The moon’s face wrinkles
not unlike yours when you’re thinking
of things that we will do
beneath the moon’s wrinkled face.

Branches caress the water’s skin
like your insistent groping fingers
reaching for my outspread limbs
gently to caress their skin.

Stars flare up and quickly fade
the way your eyes seek mine
penetrating my inner darkness
to make me flare up like stars.

Meteors shower their beguiling light
warm as your enfolding aura
where I immerse myself and wallow
in a meteoric gratifying shower. 

The opaque shadows of the night
like my misery in your absence
palliate at your approach
ike the moon’s face wrinkles.

Dedicated to my daughter on her first anniversary
Jennifer Smith

A wedding band, a circlet of gold
Let it remind you “to have and to hold.”
A commitment made, a promise, too.
Each one to the other when you said “I do.”

It won’t always be easy, there’s health and there’s woe.
Good days and bad--sorrow and joy.
Think of the other more highly than self.
Remember your vows you pledged so well.

Sometimes the rain causes flowers to grow.
Sometimes the rain means clouds of sorrow.
Bear each other’s burdens--it lightens the load.
Joys shared are doubled and priceless like gold.

Read in the Good Book, there’s wisdom inside.
Pray for each other and also alongside.
A strand of three is not easily broken.
Let God be the One that keeps you in yoke.

A wedding band, a circlet of gold,
Each time you see it say “Thank you” to God
For the spouse that He’s given you to walk with through
This glorious treasure – a husband and wife.

Cindy Tebo

I see the cyclist
in the last of today's sun
he keeps his head down
while pedaling
a faster yellow

two wheels of clock
streak by
the spokes
in their way
of speaking

         the voice of time

leaving one place
for some place else

Jeanetta Chrystie

I looked around
            saw your smile
watched as you
Busy in life
            ships passing
                        hailing from afar
            another time
                        we'll visit longer
Too soon, Lord,
            too soon
We are not ready
            to let go
This precious life
            Young, vibrant
too soon--reached its period.

Judy Young

I repose where waters rush
High in the mountains’ silent hush,
In shadowed greens the mossy floor
Of woods drinks up the river’s roar.

I watch dried leaves float down then surge
Over falls until they merge
With twigs and branches in their course
A hold against the water’s force.

I watch the waters pool and swell
Behind the dam, a deepening well
Until they grow too strong to stop
And waters pour forth o’er the top.

Like waters are my thoughts and words
Silent pools that go unheard
That gather strength, that build and grow
‘Til with a pen’s release they flow.

Steve Penticuff

Some Earthlings really know
how to make an impression:
take little Audrey in the tenth grade,
such a pretty boat to be lost at sea
with those wide eyes reflecting
storms still swirling on the horizon.
Even now I see the sweet girl
drifting sadly through Geometry
with solid D's. True, we've all
known rough seas, but look:
she's gone and jumped overboard,
become a frantic minnow
swimming away with all her might
from dreaded questions, those
great whites forming on the teacher’s
lips to stalk her: "Audrey, what
don't you understand? 'Everything'?
Well then, what questions
would you like to ask?" She's trapped:
only silence and a blank, blank stare.
Silence and dreams of a beach
somewhere . . .






Dewell H. Byrd

on the kitchen table
left little grainy, sandy points
on my homework papers.
No one had to explain their
presence to Miss Doris
‘cause hers had been the same
when she did her times-tables
for Miss Iota in third grade.

The cloth got a little thin
at Grandpa’s end of the table,
where he sat to sharpen
his pocket knife, do his whittlin‘,
when front porch weather was bad.
And his extra-hot cup of coffee
drew the oil right out, color and all.

That oil cloth took a beatin’
at cannin’ time: hot jars, big pans,
acidy tomatoes and more green beans
than a body would ever want to eat.
Babies got bathed, changed and cooed there.
The edge of the cloth was great for fidgetin’
when you was getting’ a talkin’ to.
Kid’s shoes got dried overnight,
polished for Sunday School.

When all the chores was done,
includin’ homework, Papa would
talk soft and low ‘bout olden times,
kin folk, fishin‘, huntin’, Bible stories
‘til yawnin’ closed the lil’ one’s eyes
an’ everbody skittered off to bed. 
Mamma would give that ol’ oil cloth
one last cleanin’ and blow out the light
to end the day.

Todd Sukany

We all love a good story
read in the warmth of mother
punctuated with the strength of dad
wrestled free of sibling rivalry

Stories take us back to the world
of preschool when naps were torture
snacks were guilt-free and outside
was a wild call answered in spite of inclement weather

We all love a good story
read aloud so any public
distance reduces to intimate syrup
dripping off adulthood

Bev Conklin

Sometimes taking an airplane trip
seems almost too much for me.
I give my bags a final zip.
They're as full as they can be.

A last-minute check, and to my dismay,
there are more things than I meant to take.
No way to repack, at least not today--
doesn't that just take the cake?

No troubles en route . . . airport on time.
check my bags (and start to pray).
Won't bet my life or even a dime
they'll arrive the same place or day.

If I change planes, the odds will double
that the luggage will probably stray.
Plane's on time . . . there still could be trouble,
the connecting flight's full today.

Boarded at last, and I'm in the middle.
Why do the small ones get seats on the aisle?
Finding my seat belt, I start to fiddle--
when it's fastened, at last I can smile.

I'll look back and laugh when this trip is over.
They assure me that's always true.
But to my daughter, I vow once more,
"With flying--till next time--I'm through."

Henrietta Romman

To live your life
and try to bend the rules
where God would grieve
is just a dream, another dream,
of Adam or of Eve.

Gwendolyn Eisenmann

Life is a lonely place--
come dance with me.

Hear the night voice
calling to the day voice
        through a hole
                in the moon
where tomorrow comes
to comfort you.

O morning,
slide a silken hue
        across a splintered

Life is a lonely place--
come dance with me.

Patsy Colter

Golden leaves are falling; a chill is in the air.
Drag out our jackets, pumpkins everywhere.
Children riding bikes playing in the street
Call hellos to their friends and everyone they meet.
Hot summer days are gone, cooler days are here.
Lawn mowing is over; Dad has yelled a cheer.
Autumn is a favorite season when folks get together
For pumpkin pie, wiener roasts and good times forever.

of Phyllis Moutray

"Go away, Super Ego,
I want to play!
It's Id I want
to hear from today.

Pat Durmon

It was Sunday,
and the woman dressed in flowing white
stood down front to sign the song of praise.
Her lips mouthed some of the words,
but her hands untroubled,
knew the way, cooed and flew like a dove—
no motion wasted.

The good news rose in her eyes
and in her palms-swinging arms—
no way to measure this kind of pleasure.
Were they the hands of God,
an artist at work, or a bird on the wing?
Her hands spoke of a twig of green.
The signer seemed white on dark—
hands lively and fluid,
floating like the Milky Way
sending her light into the blackest night.

The winged woman ended the song
by lifting her eyes, nodding meekly
and holding the last note with outstretched arms.
Then she wrote across the air:
“Thank you, Lord,”
sending out the word of life to be heard
by birds, saints and fools alike
until the end of time

Mark Tappmeyer

Who would not praise poetry  
as inscrutable art,                 
we hold, when distant,  
like Persian beauties pale                           
behind their silks and veils

Who cares if some consumers       
droop when held arm’s length                    
by poems grown impenetrable.
They’d strip “inscrutable” down to “scrut”
and squander the “in” and “able”                   

Let die each simple early English
“snout” and “lug” and “yap”
and all common thought
like “Leaf smoke rises in the air” 
and “Sheila clamped her wild hair”

too bare of noble Latinizing.
Art’s wasted as a knob that invites pulling,
a path unduly shown,
wasted as is a good wife’s good
for being skillfully known.

A prose poem
Faye Adams


       I lie on the grass, still green and soft as a featherbed
underneath, lift my eyes upward to the sky and feast
on robin's-egg blue and bleached cotton candy. Miniature
butterflies drink the last drops of nectar from faded blossoms. Tiny yellow wings fan the heated air while leaves drift to land softly on my skin and spray orange bubbles through my lazy view. I close my eyes, absorb autumn's bright notes and relax with heart and soul full of gratitude and peace.


Tom Padgett

We used to go to movies; now we don’t anymore.
Then we went to rent them from a video store.

We caught them later with commercials on our old TV.
The family room was crowded, but the popcorn was free.

Next came Netflix with eighty thousand picks
for those who live in cities and those out in the sticks.

The postman brings us movies in packs of one or more.
We used to go to movies--now they’re at the door.