Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
February 2008
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January 1st

by William Vollrath
Quietly ensconced in warming comfort
sunshine flooding through bright window panes
Champagne bubbles still floating softly
o'er pecan pie memories of gifts that had been
Smiling cat dreams of snow-laden bushes
welcomed refuge for bright crimson wings
Frosted paintings on icy, cold windows
crystal white lawns, sparkling as rings
An ultimate gift blown to my doorstep
by a silent and generous, crisp, winter wind
Hope and fulfillment perfectly packaged
New Year's great promise - past stings may now mend

An Affair of Moths

by Donna Pucciani
The Silver Y swarms Iberia by day,
reaches an English meadow by night,
where purple thistle loves company.

Heart and Dart, of whose name Linnaeus,
preferring Latin, never conceived, is marked
with Cupid's fantasies, can fold herself up
like peeled fruit, then land on poppies
the color of a bit lip.

A Swallow-tail, at home among the bindweed,
will flatten herself on a window pane tonight,
her lemon-pale wings sipping fluorescence like brandy.

The Lime Hawk struts green-and-black,
camouflaged on the pavement, a mini-jet fighter
on maneuvers between elms and lime trees,
yet unable to feed because she has no mouth.

The larva of a Large Yellow Underwing,
my spiritual teacher, readies itself for pupation,
unfolds among silverweed, bellflower, and tufted vetch,

flies into dusk, netted by circles of light from the houses,
lands inside on the ten o'clock news, then sizzles
into halogen, a quick exit, a mangled corpse.
The meadow doesn't miss her at all.

Goodbye to Good's

by Mark Hudson
America was once, and won't be anymore,
The home of the ma and pa store.
A place you could go to get a vacation,
From a mindless, unemotional corporation.
Good's was a store I really did enjoy,
Located here in Evanston, Illinois.
But now we see that we're in a recession,
A depression that leads to depression.
Good's is closing part of it's store,
I won't be able to go there anymore.
It all started with Steve MacMillian
And if he reads this, thanks a million.
He was the first to notice my art,
And then for London he did depart.
He took some of my art and made some prints,
And he's been gone ever since.
People there began to notice my work,
And each person was more than a clerk.
A girl, Taylor, drew a portrait of me,
It's up on my wall, she gave it for free!
Tom Pederson did one, also,
That as well is up on my wall, so,
We're entering the age of robots and machines,
We have no room for human beings!
I don't work, or I work at home,
So Good's was a place where I could roam.
I'd see people like Fred and Holly,
And they'd always be so jolly!
One Thanksgiving I had nowhere to journey,
And Angela invited me to Gurnee.
To have thanksgiving with her family, how great,
They gave me company and food on my plate.
And one time I went to the studio of Tom Hickey,
I cleaned up some stuff that was kind of sticky.
For helping him clean, he paid me, and to my suprise,
He also gave me a whole bunch of art supplies.
And speaking of portraits, on my Christmas card,
Ronnie drew a picture of'll be hard...
To see these friends go on to their next place
This store to me was like my base
There was a girl named Emily Asboe
She was as pure as white snow
But the dreams that came out of her head were wild
I interpreted them in newsletters that I filed.
And everybody at Good's shared their dreams
And it was my pleasure to make them my schemes
Like a couple of notebooks I got them to illustrate
Till management said that they needed to wait
To get home to draw, but I kept them working
And now where will I have to go lurking?
I'll be like a creature from Barb's compositions,
An Evanston character, with decompositions!
Maybe I'm just a sentimental fool,
But the people at Good's were really cool!
I can't mention them all, in this short ode,
But to each person, thanks a load!
Life will go on, but people are really sad,
I am too, I feel really bad.
Even the king of rock 'n' roll had to die,
And one day, so will you and I.
Life is more of a bye than a hi,
And so I conclude this poem and I sigh.
Hopefully we'll meet one day in the sky,
Where artists and writers can fly!
Until I get my heavenly wings
I'll go to Good's and get a few things
And to all the dreams that never come true,
It's a new year, so things must be new.
May the staff of Good's be blessed,
Unsung heroes are always the best!

The Dead Make the Best Lovers

by Farouk Masud
Hello my darling, my love, my sweetheart--
Nothing will ever keep us apart.
You look so beautiful in that white dress;
You're the envy of every princess.
I see you have no more smart-ass remarks
Like: "You're a dog that whines, smells and barks."
Or: "You couldn't get lucky in a house
Filled with comatose women, you louse."
And: "As if! Are you crazy? You and me?
Honey, please. Over my dead body!"
I will hold you to your prescient promise;
Upon your cold lips I give this kiss;
Above you, my body burns and hovers;
They say the dead make the best lovers,
For they never seem to have a headache
Or scream out and fake it for love's sake.
First, let me bar the door to this quaint crypt
So we can act out this profane script.
And the best part about this sinful thrill?

You don't need 'the morning-after pill.'

Prayer for My Dog

by Patricia Gangas
Dear God, this day is over now
       with all its cares and woe,
and I've been thinkin' 'bout my dog,
       and places that we go.

Suddenly I got to thinking
       would You have a small space,
for my dog in heaven,
       or would she be out of place?

I'm sure she hears me when I pray
       and knows just who You are,
because she's with me as I kneel
       to praise You from afar.

She'll sit and wait beside Your throne,
       a loyal dog and mild,
You'd learn to love her just as much
       as if she were Your child.

Good-night, dear Lord, I send
       my holy prayers to Thee,
we close with love to You above,
       my darling dog and me.

West Lake In Hangzhou, China

by William Marr

right before leaving for a morning walk
my wife asked
do I need to put on my makeup?

I said no no
we are going to visit West Lake
the unadorned beauty

walking hand-in-hand
from the Broken Bridge onto the White Dike
I knew I was right
when I happened to turn my head
and caught a glimpse of a bright smile
in her innocent eyes

I Hear Your Train Coming

by G. C. Rosenquist
You tell me it only stings on the outside
As your candle eyes flicker and roll back
Slowly drowning in a spin-out tide
But it's too late for you to turn the tide back
I wonder in what vein you started all of this
And why
The armchair buzz takes you away
Let's see how fast you can go

At night, you ride the rails
Hit and run and hide
Demolition is your destination
A complete brainbox breakdown
Inject the fire
Boil your blood
Shoot the works
Your mind collides
Then you're fried
Get on board!

Under the paralyzing power of a demon flower
It's roulette in a casino in the dark
The more you play, the better your odds
And why not throw in white line fever
Fresh from the rest of us
Or an acid trip to suicide freedom
A hypnotic hallucination of horrors
Will shred your lethal mind to mush

There's an angel over the cemetery
Waiting for ticket takers
And you hang on to the edge
So you can fall forever
But forever's not so long when you're dead
And all I can do is sit here in my seat, helpless
Watch you roll off the tracks
In the dying night
Of a daytime overdose

What Have You Done?

by John Wolf
Tell me what you have done today
to make yourself a part of the greatness.

Tell me how you gave, how your
honeyed lips eased another's pain.

Tell me that your inner beauty slipped
its earthen cage to lie among the stars.

Or have you merely contented yourself
with opening and closing doors

of your hut by the pond you call a sea.
Say you're not completed by a morning kiss,

some pretty lines, a closed deal, a good run.
Tell me this is not the extent of your plan.

Every day another kingdom falls. Every day
another hero settles into ordinariness.

Tell me you are not among them. Tell me
the world's sighs mean more to you than you.

Travel Questionnaire

by Herb Berman
Do you live?
Can you live there,
alone in yourself?
Does your silent voice
rattle your fragile bones
you try to talk?
Can you fill an empty room
with yourself
all by yourself?
Do you keep a hidden drawer in your dreams?
Do you stash away your knotted heart
waiting for that sunny day
slinking in the shadows
of yesterday or some day soon
but never, never now?
In the long black night
do your sacred pills and booze
pull the covers over
your unforgiving soul
or do they
sing a love song
to the unslain monster
scratching still
under your dreamless bed?
Tell me, little one, sad little one,
can you live
inside yourself,
your only body
your only soul
the only place
you can ever
ever travel to?

Reverse Polarities

by Susan T. Moss
You don't see money lying around Antarctica.
It's scarce treasure with so few things for sale,

like the optimism
of haunting beauty that stops you
in your snowy tracks,
and you forget to breathe cold blue air

crackling with slushy ice
scrubbing stones and seaweed
from furrowed shores.

You won't find Midwest skies
crowning prairie and lake with lyrical wisps

or pine scents in the volcanic dust
sown on glacial winds
once pitching brittle ships

past the charted world - a place where
no price tags hang on ghostly shards
heaved by waves and whalers
onto dry bone yards
with nothing left
for lighting lamps or shaping corsets.

And what remains of late day sun
spilling saffron and marigold
through two white peaks

burns transforming light
filling you with grace,

and real time stands still.

God's Voices

by John J. Gordon
Many protest
they preach
God's word.

One stands in a pulpit,
sweat laden, visibly shaking.
Brandishing his holy book,
his blistering sermon provokes
guilt driven squirming in the pews.
His staccato litany of harsh rules and
"thou shall nots," conjures
visions of eternal fire.
His fundamental message:
believe him, accept his almighty savior
as your own or forfeit salvation,
doomed for eternity.
No exceptions.

Another, garbed in the traditional
clerical robes of his country,
inflames the faithful,
thundering indisputable truths
from his revered holy book.
He spews intolerance,
explosive bursts
mimicking machine gun fire.
His fundamental message:
other religions blaspheme God,
violate civil law, deny salvation.
No exceptions.

Cruel similarities
their conflicting credos:
blind faith,
male domination.

God is so fortunate.

Fallen Petals

by Wilda Morris
It was an unmiracle,
a dream turned
inside out, as I watched
the petals of the golden lily
fall to the ground
all at once.
I ached for them
to take wings.
Instead, they lay
silent until covered
with leaves and snow.
All winter they lay,
color draining away,
their decay nurturing
the dark earth.
But in spring
they came again to life
as a poem.

(First published in
Prairie Light Review,
XXVIII:1--Fall, 2007)


by James L. Corcoran
The seal says goodbye to the polar bear
because the polar bear can only swim for
so long and then he gets hungry but he thinks
this time he is tired of looking for ice to walk
on so maybe he will just get a drink of water

The whales say goodbye to the seals because there
is no longer any ice for them to breed on so they
cannot feed their pups and worse than harping
in blood they drown as a species

So the caribou and elk say goodbye to the whales
because they are being used for oil and meat and
anything handy and even though there is a ban
on killing so many there are only so many of them

and they are hungry all the time because there are
no seals or polar bears to keep the balance of fish
in the environment there and so the ecology of the
northern hemishphere collapses from the North Pole
because the ice is melting

So then the bears and wolves and other predators of
the north die out and Canada and Siberia and Greenland
all say goodbye to that (good riddance) and then the geese
and fish and plants and animals begin to die out

So that's great we have less to clean up after dinner and
who needs geese anyway they are sooooo shitty and then
well the honeybees are gone already from global warming
and driving Exxon profits up so there's no problem with that

so how do we say goodbye to that old bathroom mirror when
it comes time to move to a cooler climate and there isn't one
and the rest of the world didn't heed the warning and so
everybody panics because greenhouse gasses are...

The Old Man By The Road,
July, 2006

by Jim Lambert
He stands by the busy road
wearing his brown tie,
his buttoned best shirt
and his once properly fitted suit,
his brown, self-polished shoes damp
from the dew on the grass.

His tattered leather briefcase,
overflowing with important papers,
sits at his feet waiting,
the leather's luster lost
but the snaps, zippers,
handles and belts live on.

Stooped at the upper back,
he stands straight as he's able
in a proper business-like stance
on this weekday morning when
professional people
must go to the office.

He squints as he peers
through the bright sunshine,
awaiting a ride
with a friend,
a relative,
a bus driver.
When whoever arrives,
the old man can start his real day.

He reminds me of my accountant
who died at work one day
in early tax season.
He was seventy-six years old
doing what he loved best.

As I drive on,
I watch the old man in the mirror
and I admire his pride,
and the love he radiates
for his work.

Now a distant figure,
he leans in anticipation
toward the east,
toward his reason
to be alive.

Bottom of the Ninth

by David McKenna
tears fall
       from my
             like crystals
             on the floor
I watch them

       first a fast ball
       then a change-up
       then a curve ball

all in a row

each in
       s  l  o  w

ending the game

in the mean time
you have packed
and walked out
the door


by John Pawlik
Beside the shore
Hold my hand

The air
Is not too cold
Say that sunlight
Fills our world

The sea sounds
In our ears
Wind flows
Through your hair

As it was
When we were young

Throughout the night
There will be stars

If the Ice Melts

by Andrew Rafalski
If the ice melts
the oceans rise
the rivers surge
and if deserts spread
summer heat kills
the rains stop
the forests die
and we all follow suit
who will be left to say
"I told you so"?

After the Holidays

by Camille A. Balla
I rise from the blue wingback chair,
put away the Christmas centerpiece,
its red pillar candle now dwindled and spent.
I remove the lace tablecloth
on which festive meals were shared.
I shake out the memories, the best ones
floating through delicate threads.
Vigorously, I wipe the table,
affirming the long quiet slowdown
is passing--has passed--is over.

I dress the dark pine table
with fresh oranges, cradled in milkglass.
I glance again at the gold mesh sleigh,
still carrying cards and wishes
for all that is good.
I jump into a New Year--
it's time--the Three Kings
have come and gone!
A woman of wisdom
has come to stay.
I skip over resolutions-
I go for my dreams.

(January, 2008 issue of St. Anthony Messenger)

Morning Gossip

by Dr. S. V. Rama Rao
The chill in the air gently kissing
made passage into the year end
playing the hide-and-seek game with the
Prince of Daylight
who arrived afresh
early in the morning
as the Queen of Night
was just leaving
to her far away home
after the long night duty.
Startled by the radiant youth
she stood bolted to the ground,
staring at him, stunned.

The flippant starry-eyed Queen
fell in love suddenly, as usual,
this time with the Rising Sun Prince.
Winking at him and sending signals
with her bejeweled plump fingers
enticing the Prince to rush towards her
tearing the fog curtain apart.

The young streams
running down the mountain slopes,
chasing, fighting and playing
in the dense forest lands
and at the end of the games
decided to take a dip in the lake.

Knowing the nature of the
seductive Queen of ravishing beauty,
these uncontrolable young streams
started giggling silently,
passing side glances at the
Prince of Innocence, and
laughing loudly amongst themselves,
making fun of the whole scene.

They were betting
how soon in the evening
the young morning Sun Prince
would turn back
with a drained tired red face
from the starlit palace of the
busty Night Queen Princess.
They were wondering
why the Sun Prince
did not know of her past,
when every one else did.

How do the young ones know
how love blinds every one?


by Bonnie Manion
Everyone through life must journey,
following roads both narrow and wide;
if he travels far enough, finds both
slippery slopes and dizzying heights.

Every life has turnings, windings
through the nightfall and through light;
beasts sojourn in, prowl our forests,
but landmarks guide, restore our sights.

Every man will sometimes falter,
struggling vainly while ensnared;
mired in bogs, in grime and terror,
needing but his burden shared.

Hillcrests give each man perspective,
show his route from each direction;
give one views behind, beyond, and
point the way to new horizons.

My Requiem for MLK

by Rick Sadler
This is my requiem for Martin Luther King
His dream of equality that made the angels sing
As the sunshine woke me I thought of him
As if he were inspiring to write this hymn
He broke the bonds of bigotry and hate
To change the world before it's too late
I saw the trials and tribulations that he faced
For a realm of prejudice that he erased
I search inside myself to be like this man
To see humanity by character as best as I can
I perceive my tears for Martin Luther King
He's a man of God as the church bells ring

Dedicated to:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Black Satin

by Mardelle Fortier
As I wander down Bourbon Street
a hand touches my shoulder
and a vampire whispers
beautiful memories of the lost

I sink down at a sidewalk café
and write in filigree of tarnished tears
while saxophones cry the fire
of star-children long since gone

Pale my fingers flash to hold
days fading just out of grasp
as the moon flies, an unforgettable
ocean, silver & alive

And we are all cursed, to stay
on earth and remember, while past
nights gather darkly caped, red-tingling
and I brood alone at a table

drinking wine with the tip of the tongue
while vanished summers haunt me
with gray musical silks I can almost touch
and I stare compelled & silent into an empty glass

(Prairie Light Review, Dec. '07)

Shopping Cheap

by Alan Harris
Empty-feeling in this full-discount store,
I notice others trancing by, glaze-eyed,
behind their clinking lop-wheeled carts.
Lured, are they, by the hook of free?
Hypnotized by the hype of cheap?
I wander hapless and mapless
through thingful, clerkless aisles
and chafe inside at where things aren't.

PA speakers storewide
announce who-cares specials,
demand urgent price checks,
summon somebodies to the front, then
resume happy snippets of syrupy sambas.

Ah! A rare tagged homo employus--
I'll catch him and be out of here.
"Where are the reading glasses?" I ask
his back before he can escape.

He gives robotic directions to Aisle 5,
cinched with a "Can't miss 'em."

Remember when store clerks
would ask if they could help you,
and lead you to your product,
then stick around to make sure
it was really what you needed?

Remember customers? Service?

Within this barn of bargains
harried service-counter girls refund
to waiting lines for slipshod quality,
murmuring memorized apologies
to jaded ears, then "Step up, please."

Remember quality? Cordiality?

Absent is any quality counter
to make up for poor service
at the service counter.

Employees hired here
for ho-hum per hour
evade frazzled shoppers who,
from all different wealths,
squander the numbered
heartbeats of their lives
to search for bargains
planted cleverly near
high-margin impulse racks.

Remember joy? Hilarity?

Blindly, the free market (an
oxymoron to the credit-card poor)
ratchets money up to our
finely-computered investors
who downwardly squeeze
more work for equal pay
out of fewer desperates who
hate the jobs they have
which earn the scratch they need
to take out bigger loans.

Remember philanthropy? Altruism?

No reading glasses found in Aisle 5.
Did miss 'em.

Aimless now in Aisle 7,
I stop my cart to ask within:
How might people market goods
with love instead of greed?
Is selfishness the ultimate?

As if an angel had the mike,
the PA system broadcasts
"Follow the blue light...",
crackles, and goes silent.

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