Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
February 2005
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by Ruan Wright
We just took down Christmas
all its shiny baubles and twinkling lights
its green and red and heavenly blue
and white.

We put it away in boxes
and sealed it tight like a tomb.

A month ago, we put it out
and light came into the world
as if Tinker Bell and all her friends were
living it up on our lawns
and the magic was catching and we knew we could fly!

It had all looked so warm and so welcoming
like a new-made fire in a freshly swept hearth.

But now it's gone:

dust rings where the wise men had wandered
mangerless bits of straw
our Unholy Family.

It's January.

Again, we're clearing and cleaning,
putting things back how they had been
before Christmas,
before we made room for Christmas.

Yet, it's not
Before Christmas
it's After Christmas

and nothing's the same.

Published recently in Radix (volume 31, no. 2)

On Watching Hullabaloo Reruns on A.M.C.

by Todd Possehl
Annette Funicello
is never more endearing
than when she dances The Freddy
with those Dreamers

and no group looking better
than the Kinks in smart hunting jackets--
Ray Davies too hip to lip-synch All Day
and All of the Night in perfect accord--

brother Dave's hair the envy of every
Go-Go girl.

Then The Byrds jingle-jangle Dylan's
poetry through the rectangle visage
of Roger McGuinn -- Crosby's youthful
plumage not yet singed.

Next, Peter and Gordon cover
Buddy's True Love Ways in pure harmony
with lush orchestration, before I turn
the channel

to the sounds of today, and the decline
of western civilization.

(Previously published in Zillah)

Constructing a Poem

by Michelle True
It's difficult to take an idea
and make it new;
describe an object, feeling,
situation or idea
in an extraordinary way;
use words that every other
poet has access to and somehow
build something unique;
laying down words
carefully like bricks.

Commas, semi-colons and periods
are the cement that binds,
shaping nouns, verbs
adjectives and adverbs into an
acceptable, aesthetically pleasing
and understandable poem
unlike any other.

The most important
tool a poet uses
is the window to the soul.

The poet must demolish
her heart, mind and soul
and re-build them;
this is the blueprint for
constructing a poem.


by James L. Corcoran
A term that seems to
contradict itself, but
may be true in fact, in
an expression where
contradictory ideas
are then combined to

To contradict the contradict
is to is not is not is.
To bend and curve geometrically
is as is to be as is.

For all the actions in our space
that will never touch our skin
we can still vote for love with grace
never knowing what has been.

To stop the contradiction
would be as well to stop
the actions of the universe
from coming out on top.

Broken Nights

by John Quinn
We avoid passion,
lay like empty shells,
detecting, selecting,
rearranging reasons
why the other is at fault.
It takes a touch
or word
to connote need
to waken want.

Wrapped in apathy
and self pity,
anger and pride,
we stare at walls
until dreamless sleep steals
our souls and steels resolve
to not be the first
to reach out,
to mend the breach
that spins our night
through joyless space.

I hear you stir,
now I have doubts,
I wonder if pride and obstinacy
will let me say that word,
and if I do,
does some spark remain
to reignite the passion?

But it is late --
tomorrow might be a better time --
or maybe not.


by Ruth La Sure
In silence
I became aware
of my breathing
the rise and fall
the invasion
and the letting go.

Spring, summer
fall and winter
like water over rocks.

in the quiet
the heart opening
and closing
shape and moisture,
fluid spirit moving.

in secret winding places,
stoking fires,
bestowing a legacy,
the instinct to breathe
like a train
through the dark.

Mary Magdalene

by Larry Turner
How did I come to this state?
Why do you men always ask me that
when you really don't give a damn?
You'll never see me after this one night
and ancient memories sting me still
but you've been decent to me
and I'm tired
and I've had too much to drink
so I'll tell you

My beloved John and I,
a perfect match,
from two well-to-do families.
We shared something more:
A discontent with the life we led,
A feeling there must be something more
than a world where we were rich
and everyone else poor.

And so our wedding day arrived.
Shut up in the bride's chamber,
I heard only garbled tales
of John's new friend who had brought
six huge stone jars of finest wine.

I heard John trying to come in
and my family preventing him by force.
Then nothing
till at length my maid entered,
weeping, with a message from John.

His new friend had convinced him
that in the new life he proclaimed
there was no place nor time for marriage.
John was going to live a chaste life,
leave his wealthy family,
follow the man from Galilee.

He said I should do the same.
Two passively subversive souls,
John and I had found life tolerable
because we could share feelings
no one else dare hear.

Now he was going to openly rebel,
go off with this stranger.
I rebelled against our families
and against John as well
by choosing this life I lead.

How is poverty? It's not so good.
How is freedom? It's not so bad.
How is sharing a bed
with a different man each night?
I soon became numbed to it
but at the cost of becoming numbed
to much of the rest of life as well.

I'd like to forget the past, but I can't.
I hear daily about that man from Galilee:
How he preaches to the poor.
How he confronts the self-satisfied.
How he cleanses lepers
and cures the lame and blind.
How he accepts everybody.
And every mention of his name
stings me with memories of that day
and the choices--right or wrong--
I have made.

How he accepts everybody.

I'll find that man from Galilee.

An Impatient Little Dog

by William Marr
dashing forth a few steps
and dashing back
dashing forth a few steps
and dashing back

the excited little dog
keeps urging
his wobbly little master
who has just started learning how to walk

a bright smooth ground
lies right ahead


by Sally Calhoun
Beneath the swelling turf,
building its limited house,
the blind mole moves.
Claws creep, and grope, and clasp,
displacing stones and recalcitrant clots of earth,
this way, then that,
nudging with shoulder and paw
as the neonate, drawn by fate,
embraced by forces unseen
impels its birth.

So goes the writer,
probing out paths to stand
indestructible through the dark,
with never a turning marked
but by the marker,
en route to the future,
contracted out of the past.

The beast, ordained, goes dutifully where it must,
on runways built for galloping through the night
as free, perhaps, as its air-wombed friend the bat
dividing the sky in flight
with trails both blind and austere,
but drawn in a partitive element, now, of air.

What moves the writer and his friend, the mole?

The force that leads us all,
staving off death
through the building of tunnels?

Blindly we move,
blindly we smell, and feed, and mate,
insuring that future tunnels will always be built
until the rich earth teems as a fresh-plowed field,
a patchwork quilt.

Poking above the earth we reach for light,
searching for air and the temperate warmth of the sun,
and sniff for one moment the earth-suckled flowers of life,
then drop below once more,
into the dust,
into the run.

great eagle

by Steven Kappes
how he came to be
perched in the tree
somewhere on the bank
of the small stream
no one knows

he was spotted there
the bold brave eagle
just a few feet
above the ground
silent and still

then without so much
as the flutter of a feather
the blink of an eye
he slowly tumbled
to the icy water below

rescuers with nets
lifted him safely out
and held him
without fight or fear
warming him with body heat

stunned or in a stupor
his once mighty wings
held to his side
helpless as a child
he was carried away

the symbol
of a once great nation
also stunned
he predicts
the possibility of its fate


by Alan Harris
In a house where Usually prevails,
where Always-used-to guides,
where What-other-people-think
and Never-been-done-before deter,

a cork may pop one day up
out of a pressurized bottle
to let wine spray the ceiling
in case novelty might be okay.

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