Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
February 2012
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Poems on this Page:

Tuesday Morning

by Barbara Robinette
It's a quiet morning
a Tuesday morning
a blue-skied morning autumn
leaves falling morning, dog
barking down the street morning.
Sleepy-tired, still snuggled in my warm
long pink robe, I sit at the desk,
gaze out the window.  Apartment is cool 
to a steaming cup of
strong black coffee.
Hushed morning sun still
not up.  Dawn reaches through the
sky.  Quiet old tree by my
window...yellowing and barren old
tree...cold white winds blow soon.

(Included in the author's book
Sea Leafs By Moon.)  

Black Soldier's Lament

by David LaRue Alexander
When my blood spilled next to you, 
I also did it for the Red, White, and Blue.

Didn't matter I couldn't take a seat, 
in any restaurant where I wanted to eat.

Didn't matter that I couldn't vote, 
for I believed what the Founding Fathers wrote (all men are created equal).

Didn't matter "Go to the back of the bus," 
for I put my faith in "God We Trust."

What mattered as I felt the bullets sting, 
was I knew I wouldn't live, to see FREEDOM truly ring! 


by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
All of his letters started off by saying, "I hope this letter finds you in good health,
But what he couldn't comprehend is how much I wished he could share in the wealth.
That in the new millennium our forefathers dreams are coming to fruition
And he needed to pursue a higher education and peruse the cost of tuition
So that he could become a viable member of the community after his release
And no longer be an enemy of his neighbors and local businesses or the police
But before this transformation I suggested that he repent with his heart
So I told him to speak with a chaplain and consult a bible for a start
Months went by and he confided in me that he came to terms with his past
He told me that he could no longer blame his mother or father for his own trash
He told me he saw a counselor twice a week and began trying to rebuild his life
He told me that he was beginning to understand why the pen is mightier than a knife
He told me that in the spring he will enroll in classes to further his education
He also told me that he is beginning to feel worthy of being one of God's creations.

Creatures of Habit

by Bruce Amble
There's Joe
Same locker
Same arrival time
Same exercise routines
Same mutual comments
The same with me

Same began aeons ago
With life in the Serengeti
Partnering early evolution
And primate transition

Same infiltrated our DNA
And became habituated
Encouraging animal survival
Routine is safe, comfortable
To avoid confusion lowers stress
Living longer is reinforcing
Patterned sameness works

So Joe and I carry on
Comfortable, non-stressful
Semi-automatic choices
The vestiges of yesteryear

Same oh, same oh


by John Pawlik
There we are
Massed in poses
With elements of drama
It's so obvious now
We all went
To the same photographer
Who never changed
His background
Lighting or bothered
To move the chair
The mills
Have been closed
For at least
Some thirty-five years
Who ever went back
Once their parents were dead
Our friends were defined
By who wanted to leave
So what does it matter 
I was never that good
At catching pitching
Or carrying a ball
On the field
That none of the teams
Ever did that well
That having no car
I had no girl
Or that you
For all your talk
Marginally philosophical
Could be had for drinks
On Miller Beach
In Northwest Indiana


by David McKenna

Mother Nature’s HRT

by William Vollrath
Christmas Eve arrives
strangely bright and warm
45 degrees
no sleet to cause alarm
Squirrels play in the sun
grass turns back to green
winter's solstice done
but no snowmen can be seen
Spring seems in the air
the dog barks for a walk
Santa's loaded sled
sadly must be parked
Purple flowers sprout
an unnatural surprise
hormone replacement therapy
for Mother Nature isn't wise

(First published in "Highland
Park Poetry Winter Muses Gallery")

If I could choose

by Martha S. Moss
a time for final sleep
I think it would be now
while rustling leaves whisper – 
as if a secret to keep –
and ripples and splashes
gently strike the bow
where fullness of heart 
is surrounded by family
of love
where warmth of the sun comes
through from above –
all is tranquil
all is serene,
what a beautiful way
to enter life's last dream.

December Morning

by Susan T. Moss
Pine trees grip snow
frosting tightly packed
branches after last night's

storm settled in crystal
countenance.  One bird 
tips the scale, ripples 

silent dawn-dazzled 
morning with circles,
dives and ample soaring

to lift brown feathers
and spirits of those
up at such hour

looking past window
frame toward random
flights of joy.

Dragon Fire

by Mark Hudson
In 2012, the Chinese New year,
unrest in China is starting to appear.
There were some monks who caught on fire
to tell the government they should retire.
The government blames the rebellion
on the monks and people's hellion.
A Chinese astrologer may be right or wrong,
when he says men might step down in Hong Kong.
He predicts corruption will result in jail,
and the Chinese monks will surely not fail.
Their hero and leader is the Dalai Lama,
who has been a leader longer than Obama.
But will self-immolation really prevent
the government from creating accidents?
The astrologers also predicted floods,
and I predict worldwide more shed blood.
Tibetan monks have been tortured and beaten,
and it doesn't seem like they'll be retreating.
A 37-year old man was handcuffed,
and by an electric baton he was shoved.
He felt his body was split into pieces,
they wanted him conforming to pain increases!
They threatened to shoot him as he was screaming,
They said he'd be reincarnated as a demon!
The gun clicked but he didn't speak,
they couldn't force him to be weak.
So are monks setting themselves on fire bad?
Not if it makes the Chinese people glad.
They are dealing with a lot of oppression,
It is a story of people's depression.
2012 is supposed to be big on water,
So I hope there aren't too many slaughters.
Read the headlines and it's easy to read,
the world is crying out to be freed!

A Chicago Day in Winter

by Marcia Pradzinski
Windows embedded in concrete 
frame leaves fluttering 
on a tree outside

wind whispers through
leaves, brown and frail —
soft paper brushing silk.

What kind of tree holds 
its leaves with
such perverse tenacity?

The dead of winter now,
twenty degrees and snowfall
has built cliffed walkways.

Icy clots craft 
an obstacle course 
for pedestrians.

I slip, teeter and stare
at the tree, 
its perseverance —

its defiance 
among a forest
of skyscrapers.

(Previously published in
the winter 2011 issue of

On Being Eleven in Florida

by Gail Goepfert
—Dedicated to Nicholas Petrie
When you’re 11,
life is about the alligator
that cocked his head and swallowed
a needlefish in one gulp,
turtle, helmet-sized,
that halted a string of cars
until a driver hastened
its trip across the road,
the blue crab clusters, meat
devoured after hammering
the legs and claws to bits
on the brown paper tablecloth,
the dragon adventure,
on reserve at the library,
the last in the series,
consumed in less than a day,
pockets full of shells gathered,
lead sinkers and lures,
Boy Scout knife,
coins and candy wrappers,
and the prodding to say please,
pick up,  put away,
say thank you, remember
how to swallow life whole.


by Marguerite McClelland
How stealthily you came, 
stealing the night,
seeping into my primal rest
blessed with black.

A thread of silk you came, 
weaving into the web, 
cleaving the cold,
waking the frozen dawn 
with gold.

flushed with fire,
a stake of steel, you came, 
stoking my consciousness,
burning the brain
with paradox.

You open,
you close
the orbit of my seeking.
You lead
and bar the way.
You brought the thunder to my thought
and wrought the name. 
But for your ironwork,
could I have thought the thing I am?
Wandering in dreams of gossamer,
could I have known 
so much of splendor 
and so much of shame?

Contemplating Assumption

by Robert Coté
I have given myself over to assumption
The twisted sister of hope          
The greed of want imposing itself as a guest
Appointing its self to give direction
You no longer tell me
But I tell you what you are about
In a world where a single wind
can change a climate
And the temperament of nations
So slight a thing is a whim
So hard a thing is a want
We assume and the lie fills both

The Wall

by Chris Holaves
A man is the origin of his actions.
       —Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Bk. III, Ch. 3.

For years I fought relentlessly to win
the battle for honor, family and pride
beneath the shadow of hatred's grin
that seemed sky-high and ocean-wide.

Before me the barrier of the wall—
Impregnable with rocks piled high and deep.
Behind it lightning bolts courted my fall,
and there was no one to guide me nor to weep

when I battled in pain, tears or despair.
This barricade loomed like a dark wall of eyes
below the evening stars in torch-filled air.
Each day I fought their laughter and harsh lies.

I longed for night to rest my soul and mend my mind.
As Odysseus faced Troy's wall long ago,
I stood each day before mine warring to find
the means to overcome and defeat my foe.

Battles are won with ideas that free.
The wall is an obstacle I must tear down.
My mind can free or forever enslave me.
These three precepts haunted me to the ground,

sometimes with pride, sometimes with anger,
sometimes for retribution and glory,
and always with fear, pointing the finger
to my grave and headlines of my life's story.

But the ancient wanderer showed me the way.
I built my horse before my wall to win the day.

(First published in The Greek Star)


by Farouk Masud
Spectral beings (cursed souls) long lost,
Having died in a holocaust
Of tragic love and broken hearts,
Murdered by Cupid's tricks and darts;
Damned to sleep on a burning bed,
They betrothed in forbidden wed;
At night they sing and dance in woe
As the moon beams their spotlight show;
Evanescent people so sad—
A sight that makes the mind go mad!
We watch in horror and respect,
Sinking deeper in introspect.
We’ve chosen not to join this crew,
To part our ways and start anew.
Truly, lusts (not love) have no ends.
We’ll heed our folks and just be friends.

Walking Without You

by Wilda Morris
With a line by Laure-Ann Bosselaar*

I dressed and left
the empty room, left
the empty house.
I felt nothing.
Even the wind had nothing
to hang onto.
I did not want to walk
where we had walked,
but we had walked
in every direction.
My feet shuffled
past gardens already harvested,
past plants topped by ice,
past trees from which
the last leaves had fallen.
I went home and went to bed.
I woke to no sound,
no breath on the other pillow.

*Italicized line is from "Birthday,"
in A New Hunger (Keen NY:
Ausable Press, 2007), pp. 50-51.
(Published in Seeding the Snow
Fall-Winter 2011), 22.


by William Marr
even in broad daylight
it's harder and harder
to find pure white
this world
urgently needs
a refreshing
snow shower

Hale'lea *

by Bonnie Manion
Splashing down from Waia'lea'le,
source of waters, of the Hanale'i,
this secret river dashes, plunges,
journeys slopes in dances, lunges.

Cuts a vale so steep and lush,
House of Beauty's praised with hush;
the home of flowers and birdcalls,
of maile, and ten waterfalls.

The valley opens wide to its bay
as the river winds around a broad plain;
a sandy shore edges the town where
waves line the cove mountains surround.

Under seacliffs, by coral shoals,
broad pandanus shade and cool;
A reef breaks waves and shelters the shore
where small fish hunt and crabs explore.

Winds bring clouds of nurturing rain;
tides mark shorelines time and again;
the sun there also rises east, and
sunsets color the skies with  peace.

* Hawaiian for house of beauty

13 Signs of Bad Luck

by Alan Harris
It is bad luck if:
  1. A pit bull doesn't finish crossing your path.
  2. Your psychiatrist falls asleep while you're talking.
  3. You discover your broker has renounced monetary gain.
  4. You receive a registered letter from your spouse.
  5. Your dentist starts to plan a world tour.
  6. Our President broadcasts a plea to remain calm.
  7. Your doctor starts wanting you to pay ahead.
  8. Your PC screeches when you turn it on.
  9. Inside the company elevator you begin to float.
  10. Your boss begins, "You've been a good employee. . . ."
  11. Your flight attendant has strapped on a parachute.
  12. The neighbor boy always talks about making fires.
  13. Your surgeon has a Band-Aid on his finger.

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