Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
February 2001
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Poems on this Page:


by Larry Turner
First remove collar from Fido, Prince, Rex, or Fifi
(or all four for a really big bash).
Spread plastic or newspapers for the mess.
Drain blood, skin, remove organs
and all but the smallest bones.
Set up grinder according to instructions.

Beg pardon?
Oh, you said Ground-Hog Day.


by Bob McCarthy
broken bones

diving catches
open field runs
split the uprights



by William Marr
young at heart
the old sun
once in a while
likes to put on
his mischievous black mask
just to scare
the superstitious, jittery

not knowing
we now keep shadows
safely in a world of virtual reality
where we eat and drink
race cars
make love
all without benefit
of a single ray
of sunlight


by Alan Harris
There was never a never
so always as forever
nor a permanence
so flimsy as finished.

There was never a happy
so permanent as joy
nor a falseness so
fleeting as autonomy.

Insulation clothes well
till it suffocates,
and protection is safe
till it isolates.

To breathe always joy
let our hearts strive together
most brave toward that space
both above and unknown

where our labor with stones
can build the next temple.
Build we together or
become we the stones.

Pressure Points

by Tom Roby
Malta's Grand Harbour, faceless fortress,
obdurate against Saracen and Nazi,
compels respect because
it also guards the
world's oldest

But what meanings are in these beginnings:
what use their cloverleaf emblems;
why lunar mother has no head,
or two; whose blood flowed
over thick skirted legs
beneath her torso
altar and was

Such lore is not bought from tour guides.
Lost priests, forgotten gods
left us to find answers
from earth and sky
by our rituals,

At Hagar Qim stone bones of carved devotions
lack the muscles to move me. Twined
with spiraling spirits of sacred
vines, pock patterned as a
thousand peacocks' eyes,
they are blinder
than Tiresias
and less

I fill blank sockets with ten finger tips,
hope right pressure hallows space,
for new moons to fix fickle
faith. Slowly, I pull
back my tingling
fingers until I
lose touch.

The silent ferryman weighs my
anchor of questions. Blood
sun sinks into water. Its
crust stains Homer's
sea wine dark. I
turn away to
a secular

Clearing Weeds

by Nancy Clark
Once someone laid the bricks to build the walk
Before my house, cut squares and laid them in
Diagonal design. Years hence his work
Was met at either end by poured cement.
All up and down the block were swept-clean walks,
But mine grew weeds that wanted up and out,
To smother and reclaim the ground for green.

My childhood pride in place could not abide
The look, unkempt, not like the way we lived.
So I abandoned play and books and mates
From time to time, my chosen work to tear
Each weed up by its root, no care for time,
Just purpose bound. I knelt and tugged and dug
My fingers in the dirt to pinch and pull
And pile the unfit weeds. A patch complete,
I swept it hard, and pleased with progress, thus,
I bent again and on, til dusk and stinging fingers
Told me halt. My bricks, well-groomed, lay freed.
The weeds, I knew, would surge, offend again.
And I would bend to clear the way once more.

Today I still may feel the need to wrench
Some taunting, flourishing weeds that hold their ground
Where purpose likes them not. But I refrain,
For these worn hands and unabundant time
Arrest my reach and say, "Make choice of weeds."

The Meaning of Meaning

by Richard Oberbruner
Let me put it to you this way:
A poet makes little money on poetry alone.
So the poet takes a job in advertising--
Creates a catch phrase that's all the rage.
The client makes millions. The poet gets
promoted to Assistant Vice-President
of Potential when what he really wants is
to write poems that accomplish something.
Still, the wife nags, the kid's crying,
the dog builds his own house from scraps
retrieved from a lumber yard. The poet wishes
to get an advanced creative writing degree--
the kind he could frame and hang in his office
if we ever get to the point of patients visiting
their poet twice a year. They would sit in a
special examining chair, face a sunny window
and ponder the lack of verse in their lives.
The poet charges exorbitant fees yet clarity
is priceless. He becomes President of the
Potential Division which involves travel--
the physical kind--not the mental, which,
along with sitting still, is the travel of poetry.

So the poet is in Seattle settling something
smarmy kissing subsequent agency cocktail ass
when a bomb squad busts down the banquet room doors.
His face squashed to the floor next to a blotch of shrimp sauce.
The camouflaged commander has a bomb in his hand.
He stands over the poet in a room filled with
militaristic giggles. It's his bonus. The bomb is
the poet's bonus. It's filled with Hershey Kisses
wrapped in one hundred dollar bills. The poet is lost
in a corporate sponsored Vietnam rice paddy.
He's congratulated for accomplishing nothing.
He's repulsed but very receptive. He's learned
how to throw up without actually throwing up.
The commander puts a black streak of grease paint
under each of the poet's eyes. He tries to explain
all this later to his wife by phone but the kid's crying,
the dog keeps hammering away in the background.
The poet stays up late in a hotel bed writing wasted.
Real life usurps anything his imagination creates.

His flight home the next day crashes into a subdivision.
Hundreds are killed.

                              This is what he thought as the 727
made a smooth landing. The poet saw himself surviving
with reporters and first aid crews swarming to hear him
read his new poem atop the steaming wreckage.
It's covered live by all channels. His poem
downloaded world wide on the web.
Two Zulus discuss his use
of the phoenix metaphor.
The other
nods in

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