Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
February, 2024
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Poems on this Page:

In Which I Discover Organic Farming

by Christopher Kuhl
At lunch with a friend, I drop
random forkfuls of taco salad
on the floor. It's grubby,

so the five-second rule
doesn't apply. But hope does:

there's enough dirt that if no one
sweeps, the lettuce will flourish,
the beans sprout, and enough salad

fixings will be ready to harvest for
fresh, homegrown salad. This

excites me, so I pick up my bowl
and empty it on the floor, move
everything into a pile, and place

the bowl over it for protection. I
order a beer, and meditate on my

organic farming. I will come for
a drink every day, and listen to my
crops grow salad enough for two.


by William L. Lederer
A tremble. A pause. A tremble again.
A wave a particle from which side first?
The beginning or the end.
I thirst.
About to pronounce a quiver
The mouth of a river.
Up and down the tongue.
Smile everyone!
Tongue the rim of a cone.
Pour parts from the sun. 
Molten flow into one.
Golden butterfly done!
Impossible shapes you.
Tongue tied in the dew.
The many too few.
I pronounce you new!
The mystery in the cave.
Outside you the wave.
Clearly I behave.
Go to the mirror and shave.
Smile corners of the mouth
Bitter or sweet you're south.
A frown has begun
Rise from all others as one.
Your tongue all over the place.
Lie over here in this space.
You spoke to me in this wheel.
Deeper the wide till we feel!
Now since we're done
read my lips as one. 
You're slippery yet harder than stone.
I grasp but you seem alone.
Here we come. It's on and on!
We're all body as one!
What's this below and above?
No more ordinary word than love.


by Julie Isaacson
Your emerald crowns are pending
and for now you stand, characters like figures carved on Pandora's box
each with your own tale
interpretive stretch as in Warrior 2

Your textured strong core
solidly boasting branches and limbs
A vena cava and multiple veins, arteries 
delicate capillaries, narrowing 

Resembling arthritic fingers
of my century year old aunt

Occasionally, I envision a whimsical hair style
reminiscent of Medusa, 
and I dare not stare too long, just in case

You balance visible nests, the occupants
having selected your grace and beauty from among all the rest
in this communal forest

Soon, with spring in the air,
You will bloom, blossom 
and hide the finery of your structures
Until months from now,
when again you shed
for us to read your outlines

You are in individual miracle
You will accessorize and then strip, 
Year after year after year


by Michael Lee Johnson
Tired of hunger
tired of emptiness
late February winter snow—
crow claws locked in
on my condo balcony
steel railings.
Their desperate eyes
focus in on my green eye
their search begins,
I go to bed, no ruffled feathers showing—
their imaginary dreams of green—
black wings fly flapping—
the hunt, scavengers, over barren fields—
shadows in the way
now late August
summer sun
bright yellow
turning orange—
hard corn.


by Susan T. Moss
Blank paper flaunts 
deserts in search 
of words seeded
with philosophy, 
poetry, the makings
of a novel or song,
a world waiting
to be created.

These manifestos 
of the mind 
find their way
to paper, the keeper
of ideas typed
or written, and ride
the caravan

through a country
yet to be discovered—
an intersection
where inspiration
meets open space

and ingenuity embraces
potential, each thought
a budding possibility
on a pristine page
hungry for words.


by Wilda Morris
"Everyone of us is a zoo in our own right...." ~ Ed Yong
I was taught to fear bacteria, to scrub
them away with soap, slaughter them
with bleach, exile them from home and hands
my kitchen counters, the dirty laundry.
Now I'm told my body is home
to more bacteria than there are fish in the sea
or stars in the Milky Way. I'm invited
to thank these minute creatures
for setting off the process of evolution,
told that without them, we would not exist.
Their advocates don't stop there—they say
I should actually praise bacteria—praise them
for cleaning up waste, providing plants
with nitrogen. Even more, I should honor
them for what they do inside my gut,
how they help digest my food, produce
vitamins and minerals I need, break down toxins,
how the good bacteria work hard to kill or crowd out
their dangerous, disease-bearing cousins.

The scientists who study such things
say my body is unique zoo, a microbiome
unlike any other, first inhabited by bacteria
from my mother's birth canal. That my body
provides multiple habitats, each as different
as the Tropic World at Brookfield Zoo
is from the African Savanah, as different
as Desert's Edge from Seven Seas.
They tell me each of my bacterial habitats
is important for the whole. But I'm not really a zoo.
Families with children don't walk through me,
gazing and gaping at all the exhibits. For that,
I'm truly grateful! And these minute creatures
of my microbiome don't always stay in their cages.
Every hour, researchers say, I aerosolize
37 million of them as I talk or type, sneeze,
skate, step over my grandson's dinosaurs
(how many microbes did T-Rex house??),
as I drive or turn a doorknob, cook or count
syllables in a poem. That's why I'm sure
I'm not a zoo; I'm a covered bucket with a small leak.

(First published in Rockford Review)


by Elizabeth Stanley King
Love is a shadow that follows us, 
lurking around corners 
and under park benches.  
It can be larger than life 
or short and squat.  
Some days it is bold and vibrant, 
others it is sparse and tenuous.  
Still, it follows us around, 
Always looking for us. 
Trying to be both one
yet separate. 
Its own 
and shrinking 
every day, 
just like the tides.  
Even if it somehow became detached, 
Wendy would still be there 
to sew it back on again. 

Sleeping Bear Dunes,
Upper Lake Michigan

by Tom Moran
From the bluff,
waves are
like dental floss
on the beach.
I meld in to your
Mona Lisa smile.
I need you,
as dunes need grass
to hold the sand in place.
When we are ash,
our love
will scatter skyward,
to nurse 
the inflamed sun.

Fireworks Festival

by William Marr
every day is
their fireworks festival
with all kinds of weapons——
and even nuclear weapons
from all directions
they light up the sky
to celebrate
the end of the world


by Jill Angel Langlois
Locked inside a stagnant and 
Withering relationship
He longed to be free
From its unending pain
The love he feels for her
Is now drained from him
As he calls her on the telephone
Once again, out of habit.
Her cold voice drives a stake into his heart
But he does as she commands

Driving along the country road
Visions of children romping in the snow
Flash before him 
And as the tears fall from his eyes
He remembers why he's here
He must go back
He turns his car around
And races to his favorite place
Where he once carved his initials
Into a tree...with hers

As he stares at the heart
Engraved in the tree
He drives his pocket knife
Into the center of it
And the knife remains there
Never touching her initials
But piercing his own

Darkness shadows the scene
Somewhere in the distance
A child cries aloud

Working Backward

by Lennart Lundh
(after an unattributed photograph
of an abandoned house in the
Republic of Karelia, Russia)
Far into a future we won't see,
the star that binds all this will die.

With time, the sun that feeds us
will eat this planet like a snack.

Eventually, all traces we leave
will crumble back to their source.

Sooner or later, our kind will either
disappear or abandon the Earth.

After you and I are gone, this house
in which we are making love tonight
will be swallowed by fire or forest.

Or maybe not. But, for now, please
ignore the things beyond the curtains:
Hold me as if every word were true.


by G. Jordan Maclay
Life flows into my cells
vibrating, glowing

the power to create
is mine
God given

I choose my work
until my time

flesh decays
into gases, that someone
breathes and
into bones we make 
clubs and ladles from.

What remains
cannot be seen
and never could

Yet it is always there

[From Transformations:
Poetry and Art by
G. Jordan Maclay
(Quantum Fields LLC)]

Talk to Me

by Rafael Lantigua Medina
Talk to me.
Sing a song to fill a refreshing Oasis
where morning can honor love
and apace restless souls. 
Love is a Master.
Talk to me
with your enchanting eyes.
Open my heart
as you well know how to. 
Talk to me with the gentle touch 
that freshly nurtures the morning, 
calling to meditate on what to do next. 
Love provides love.
Talk to me. 
Tell me that love
is a tree that bears fruits
if two water it —even in a desert. 
Talk to me. My senses are opened;
ready to take you to our favorite place:
 a mindful refuge where nobody can touch us. 
Love is a guardian always.

More ISPS Poems | Haiga Gallery

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