Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
February 2007
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Poems on this Page:

Café in Autumn

by Susan B. Auld
Words bounced between conversations
between tables round and square
caught a ride on the whirling wind
pushed through the door out and in

punctuated by the door bells clattering
Janice's bluesy "Bobby McGee"
the clink of spoons on ceramic cups.

Light dimmed gray outside the window
framed half naked trees
wounded red, scarred yellow
amplified words
lost in a swirl

lost words
between the couple
silently sipping
distractedly stripping a napkin
sound by sound
tossed away.

Spider Web: Zero-G

by James L. Corcoran
Did Orpheus descend upon you
orphan of crust baked spinners?

Did the drops of dew fall off
the sky too late for you to capture

them? And what of your web in there
in your mini earth, strange strider?

Did you simply capture moments
of moonlight that reached across

these instances of movement to
surround you so with a distance that

moving forward you couldn't tell
if the synchronicity was up or down?

Back in the Villages

by Mark Hudson
Leaving cold Chicago, on a night that's cold and drab
I went off to Orlando, as a passenger in a cab.
I was with my sister and nephew we met the driver named Kathy
She was 54 years old, she acted kind of daffy
She told of a passenger she had to restrain
She got into it with a cop and acted quite insane
She tried to jump out the taxi and the driver held her by the hair
Preventing her from leaving till the cops got there
Another time an 80-year old missing a leg
Crashed into her taxi and crushed it like an egg
Another time she went fishing and caught herself a seagull
Was there ever a time, when this cabbie's life was dull?
Then in the airport checked our luggage in
And we're on our way to see my father Dave and my mother Lynne
I see an Amishwoman, another couple kissing
Our flight will be leaving soon, I hope we won't be missing
A kid in the airport eats a banana and is scolded
A code Orange is so scary what plot could be unfolded
We'll make it to Florida, tonight we'll have tacos and cheese
We'll go swimming if it's not too cold, we surely don't want to freeze
In the swimming pool there were some kids to heckle
Red-haired pale kids, missing teeth and freckled
But kids are awesome I think they're really cool
I didn't go swimming I just photographed the pool
And my nephew, sister and dad as they swam there
The pictures are ones you can look at and stare
My 2-year old nephew meets a girlfriend, I suppose
But all he can do is just pick his nose!
It wasn't something that represented purity
But I can relate to the insecurity!
The next night we're eating at Beef O'Brady's
Eating chicken wings that are hotter than Hades
Actually, I ordered mine mild
As we watch my nephew, the sleepy child
Then we go to the computer lab,
To find a seat and try and nab
My sister sits down at a computer that's off
And the lady next to her starts to scoff
"That's not working" she said with a smirk.
"You didn't turn it on," says my sister, "That's why it didn't work!"
The lady feels sheepish, but it's probably true
That something like this could happen to you!
So the next day, we're trying to go to the art fair
But my nephew and sister are sleeping with a teddy bear
By the time they're awake we decide to go
After a while it rains and now I know
The sunshine state is not always sunny
But some of the things happening are funny
Like the fact as soon as we decided to return
The rain stopped coming, when will we learn?
If we listened to dad it was totally clear,
"The rain will stop coming when we're no longer near,"
And on this trip we've been acting insane
My mom went driving in the wrong lane
And I drank some egg nog, but it wasn't for real
It was a carton of raw eggs to make a big meal
My family said, "Isn't your stomach hurtin'?"
But I said, "I don't know, I'm not quite certain."
Then we went out for seafood with parents and friends
We ate fried catfish and food with many blends
An aquarium fascinated my nephew a lot
It would probably fascinate the average tot
Now it's Monday and Grandma Doris came by
She lost her keys in the trunk and we sigh
Now she's here They're talking about Tampa
The one who started the discussion was my nephew's grandpa
Now we're playing shuffleboard my dad and I are winning
My sis and grandma are losing and my dad and I are grinning
I started out not knowing how, just a beginner
The other team just lost ten points and now we are the winner
We got up to 95, and we were beating the ladies
Then they started getting back and we climbed down into the 80's
Each time we were up to 95 while they were below zero
I did some tricky shots which made me quite the hero.
We finally won the game, and were glad for the times we scored
What real men we were, beating ladies at shuffleboard
So I go out to breakfast, and it's really cold
I see this man who is really old
He sees me in shorts, and he says just by chance,
"Who stole the bottom half of your pants."
We went to the duck pond and my nephew said, "Wow!"
We took some pictures that the ducks would allow
Then we went to a restaurant for fish and my nephew,
Found a salesperson selling toys, too.
My nephew had to have a green mini-van
And he has more toys than anyone ever can
On the night before we left, There were sold out shows of Charro
But we'll be leaving for Chicago early tomorrow.
There was a low in the 40's, The last two or three days,
Temperatures will rise to 71, and 80's where it stays
Next weekend when my sister, and I return to the midwest
We missed the warm weather, but our trip was still the best
My parents need the rest, they probably need a drink,
"'Cause company is like fish, after three days they stink!"
So goodbye Villages, I'll see you in 2008,
In the meantime I guess I'll just have to wait.


by G. C. Rosenquist
To my mother
Nico, you started when you were a teen
Now they have turned you into a slave
But you can't see that through all the smoke

You need one first thing in the morning
For breakfast
In the car on the way to work
At morning break
Afternoon break
In the car on the way home
For dinner
While watching TV
After sex
Then have one more and repeat in the morning

You're stuck in the tar of tobacco road
And the habit is kicking your butt
You huff and you puff
Not to blow a house down
But climbing the front stairs
Still, you light up and pack it in
How does life look through menthol colored filters?

Your sign is Cancer
Better break the camel's back
Before your ashes are put into a tray


by Ruan Wright
I was kneeling,
at my prayers,
as I do every day at this sun-tired hour.

My head hung low.
My undressed hair
made me
a shady grove
where it fell.

My hands, tightly clasped
at my bosom,
budded and bloomed
like night-scented jasmine
as I breathed my intercessions

touching my head, my heart,
the fray-edged shawl around my neck
which was heavy
this day. I fingered it,
watching the shadows lengthen across the room

they reached like vines
or serpents. I could smell the little world around me,
the scent of dung and pain and human toil

and earth
and death
something else
new birth, heaven,
spring-flowering apples
through the haven
of my hair.
My room was dark by then.
Alone, as always,
I heard the wind in the palms, the animals bleating,
the men bickering, the women gossiping
and my Lord calling

My dreams before this were different.
My eyes were open wide;
I wasn't sleeping.

It was like a great light filling the room
filling me.
Terrified, I dropped my head
covered my eyes, but a warm presence
enfolded me.
Words whispered and rang:
Hush, Mary, don't be afraid.
The Lord is with you.

I raised my head and looked.

I saw the Angel standing
like a tree before me burning
wherever I looked wheeling
in front of me
behind me turning
moving, yet
I never saw him move!

I heard his words but didn't see him speak.

I will, I said.

Then His touch
like moths
lighting on my body.

I was small

Let it be, I prayed.


like a fruit     I opened.

And here is my child.

(First published in WINDHOVER:
A Journal of Christian Literature
, 2007)

What Is Art?

by Patricia A. Hare
Art is the drama of human passion
expressed visually, audibly, sensually.
It cannot be confined behind social barriers.
It must be free. It must be wild. It must be simple.
It must always be true for the artist.

What is new today will be old tomorrow.
Time is the test of true art and yet,
we may have lost something that was beautiful
in our haste, our disdain, our lack of vision.
It must always be true for the artist.

History shows the struggle of artists, musicians,
writers to show their passion, their vision;
to play their music so we can feel it;
to tell their story so we can believe it.
It must always be true for the artist.

Poetry is the music of the soul played
in the language of the people it serenades.
Rules have not stopped the great poets
of their time, but rules change. Poetry goes on.
It must always be true for the artist.

When art and expression are gone,
the soul of mankind will also be gone.
Art is passion reaching out to be held.
Its form is not important. Its message is.
It must always be true for the artist.


by John Pawlik
It was the warmth
The light weight of it
How the sun
Rose over its borders
And began the day

It was the thing I came to see
At the center of being The way
Even the dark hours themselves distilled
After it to memories more than dreams

It was how when it was the only thing
In the room it seemed enough
The matter of matter it moved
To define the point of feel

As no words that were ever said
It bred the moments of consequence
The lengths depths and breaths of it
Filled the world

Autumn leaves
The first snows
The blank of it
The absolute
Vacant not of it

Than any bottle
In the middle of Tennessee

It will be
What I miss most

History Never Changes

by Dr. S. V. Rama Rao
The sun is there where he was before.
Stars established residence in the sky.
Clouds do not fly on the ground but
stay only in the sky and
rain naturally rains as usual.
Nothing is new.
There is no change in history.

Rulers and religions are there
to rule and hold the people forever
in their grips.
There is one dictator ruling
every country
whether we accept it or not.
There was once a Stalin, Mussolini,
a king or a prime minister,
or a president.
What does it matter who the rulers are?
we are the pawns in their intrigue.
The cruelly punished and banished
millions of Russians
by their own Government
lived wasting their lives
for a mere survival
In the God-forsaken Siberia, and
and the miserable lives of the millions
living in the ghettos of the cursed third world
or the homeless wanderers
in the countries of the unimaginable riches,
in the United States of America
or the few elite European countries
are same - what is the difference?

What change is there in history?
Every thing is same.

All of us - who believe stubbornly
that we will born again and again
are destined to be born
as cockroaches or ants
to be devoured instantly
by the eagerly awaiting lizard nearby.
It is certain that the hunter will
shoot or kill us with sharp arrows
when we are born as an antelope or a deer
in future life.
Unless the dead empty the world
there is no place for the
newly born to grow and
for us to live longer.

Train stops in the station
to resume its journey again.
The starting point is the destination
for the train to make another journey.

History that belongs to the past
does not become the present.
The life stays sitting
where it was left and
leaves when it would get up.
Anything that was newly discovered
is not new at all -
it ought to have been
in existence before.
Then why was there a surprise?

The Sun is there
where he was before
and he will be there
at the same place tomorrow, too.

whatever happened happens again
where is the change in history?

Seasons Change

by Susan T. Moss
Someone once wrote that
fall is when life starts over again.
Perhaps it's the brittle splendor
frosting summer's ripened fruit
or radiant transitions to russet
and orange quilting the hillsides

that like a shooting star
portend endings
of easy living in rose-scented
days with firefly nights

when children play hide and seek
past their bedtime
and slamming screen doors
bang in the dark

until autumn, like love,
scatters its golden light
to be savored and stored
for winter days steeped
in brooding shadows.

Sight Reading the Mountains

by Glenna Holloway
In ranges high and separate,
leftover music from time's beginning
is composed on layers of limestone, basalt.
It waits patiently for the steady sweep
of rain and wind to expose it to a singer.

Earth's oldest harmonics are scored
on blue-gray graphs strung across heaven,
or recorded in quartz geodes in clay pockets.

At certain elevations I find unfinished parts
of a canticle, quarter notes on staff lines
of ancient lava, fragment lyrics etched
on silica in secret languages. Some tones,
newly freed from eons, are dispersed in dust
of fossils lifted on soaring condor wings.

Whole measures push up from gritty darkness,
from stony underpinnings, eager to be sounded.
All senses attuned, attaining more than altitude
with every foothold, my passage is measured
in inches and granite grace notes. The rope holds
at the pinnacle; the thin air I disturb converges,
blending bass, tenor, alto, treble, the tremolo
of triumph. The top of the scale is mine.
I carve it not with initials but a high C.


by Larry Turner
Tiki, the two year old Pug,
doesn't want to go outdoors until
Boomer, the fourteen year old Shih Tzu,
joins her.

I watch them cavort on the lawn,
envy Tiki's innocence,
her ability to live in the present,
her inability to foresee a time
when he will not be with her.

Wonder Woman Is in My Yoga Class

by Jennifer Dotson
Wonder Woman is in my yoga class.
At first, it was really cool.
After all, Wonder Woman is a celebrity.
I like telling people, like my friends at Java Junkie,
That Wonder Woman is into Bikram.
Now, it's a bit of a distraction.
I'm supposed to concentrate on my breathing and my poses.
Feel the heat in the room.
I stare at my reflection in the mirror
And focus on the space between my eyebrows.
Then that outfit catches my eye.
Red White and Blue with a big golden eagle.
Thank goodness she keeps her lasso and her bracelets in her locker.
Our instructor offers encouragement but never corrects her form.
In bow pulling pose, I push myself to hold it longer than W.W. does.
A large drop of sweat swims down my face.
I wobble and it's all over.
There goes my inner peace.
I'm happy to see that W.W. has trouble with the full locust pose.
Her breasts are too big and get in the way.

I approach her in the sauna.
I keep my tone casual as I say
Yoga must be a nice change from hunting Nazis and terrorists.
She makes a confession.
She doesn't like to fly her glass plane right after class.
She's too relaxed.
The other members of the Justice League are on call.
Superheroes need a break, too.
I offer to buy her a decaf soy latte afterwards.

Riding with Achilles

by Wilda Morris
From the speakers in my car resound
clashing swords, screams of pain,
insults, groans of dying men,
sighs of women given as gifts,
and the quarrelsome petulance
of Greek divinities.

The upholstery is splattered with blood
and dirt; the back seat filled
with armor stolen from bodies
of the dead. The anger of Achilles
turns up the heat until I am immersed
in steam. The tears of Priam rain in
through the windows.

                                    So overwhelming
are the smells of rotting fish, battle smoke,
and Hector's sweat, I strain
for the fragrance of bread baking,
meat cooking in cauldrons set on great tripods,
or the hyacinths in which Zeus lay with Hira
until at last I finish listening
to the twelfth audiotape of the Iliad.

(First published in The Chaffin Journal)

Saddam's Noose

by William Marr
scorched with gun powder
fumigated with poisonous gas
drenched with tears
soaked in blood
strengthened by sinister laughter
entwined with piercing cries
every thread of the rope
he knows
is tough and dependable

he walks up to the gallows
and calmly sticks his neck
into the noose he made for himself
confident it will not break

Old Songs

by John J. Gordon
To counter the affliction
they sang old songs:

  Down By The Old Mill Stream
  Five Foot Two
  Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Unusual medicine?
It worked for Frances.

After eighty-nine years,
her life's tapestry unraveled:
anger, confusion, hospitals, wheelchairs.
Then stony silence.

Desperate to spark a response,
her friend spent countless hours
reading, talking, showing her old photos.
The only voice was his.
Even music failed,
until he sang a song from her youth.
Frances made it a duet:

     But we'll travel along,
     Singing our song,
     Side by side.

Another song, another duet.
Her eyes brightened.
Her faint smile
hinted of sharing to come.

Duets continued
until time made
its final demand.

Music unleashed
its healing power.

In Her Shoes

by Barbara Eaton
You gave me the movie
for Christmas.
"Don't read anything into it,"
you warned.
"It's not our relationship."

But I did read something into it.
It was our relationship:
a struggling actress
and a struggling lawyer
clawing at each other at times
but in the end


Recollections of a Writers' Colony

by Mardelle Fortier
On long evenings we walked under trembling, longing
stars onto thin ice...running over...
it sang and cracked under our fast footsteps.
In moonlight we locked out that critic
with dark beard, stern eyes.

I spent enchanted hours in my room at silken desk
alone with everything.
Outside tall windows
wind waltzed in long blue robes, swirling.
Fog stood surprised by candleglow that snaked
across its wild feet. On the vast, tree-blessed lawn
spun Dream in white and Memory
in black; blurred to silver and in mist
they stood in silhouette.

My fingers grew blind to the world, yet in the night
I touched the face of the moon;
calm and cool, it knew every infinite secret.

(ByLine, Dec. 2003)

Job Interview

by Alan Harris
Through my windows
I see your windows and frame,
your curtains, shutters, and paint,
but I know zilch of the private
hassles and jollities in your house.

I properly inquire about your degree,
your courses, your work history,
and then watch you dance
your verbal employment jig.
But I must not ask into the chasms
of your being
where lies the real you--
such would be corporate taboo.

I do hear that catch in your voice
over a certain part of your past.
I do see that eagerness
to dwell on a fleeting achievement.

I am Sigmund Freud
analyzing your vocational dreams,
and you are Napoleon Hill
thinking and growing rich.
You are strategizing on your side
of the chessboard by all the rules
as I offer gambits here and there,
then inscrutably castle.

Whole dictionaries of words remain
unspoken in our 45 ticking minutes,
and yet somehow
I recognize my story in yours.
You and I are each someone
struggling to carve out
a safe and joyful survival from
a murderously mysterious world.
We are each a failingly successful,
triumphantly agonizing being
making small steps
toward what appears right.

You misread me
if you see in me a company man.
I am in a way you,
on trial,
absorbing what meaning
can be made of our encounter.

You wonder what I am thinking
as I speak glibly of opportunities,
and I wonder who you really are
as you smile with hollow confidence.
Will I give you a favorable rating?
Will you make us a good employee?
Fate has hung you and me
in her balance
on either side of this empty table.

When we go out from our room,
we will shake hands,
smile pleasantries,
and fade back into our
respective anonymities,
each hoping we have done
right by the other,
and each knowing we haven't,

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