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

Four Years

by Jim Wilkerson
Four years ago
He sat in the front row
Just two feet from the coffin
He reached out his hand to touch it
And said "I'll see you soon, honey"

Now at 94
His body almost nothing
No need for a scan
When you can see the tumor
Pushing out

Telling lies to his loved ones
"No, I'm not in pain"
But telling the truth to the nurses when we leave
That he just doesn't want us to worry
He just doesn't want us to grieve
When there's been so much loss
These last few years

Thinking of us before himself,        secretly

Showing us what love is all about

Love in These Times

by Margery Parsons
for H. and J.
I sing the serendipity, the singular, non-linear alchemy of love
in a time when the bottom line, the cash nexus, yes,
defines and is the measure of all success.

I extol the trembling tenderness
that teases even the toughest of us in from the cold
in a system where all of our hopes for this are masterfully bought and sold. 

I must mention the magic of two souls riffing in scintillating harmonic chords
when the primacy of primitive look-out-for-selfing
distorts our feelings and our words. 

I uphold the uniquely human capacity you see in love and art
to refuse with ferocious tenacity to be reduced
to soulless survival or purchasable parts. 

Love is our humanity loudly exulting
in the star-rooted splendor of our precious species,
which deserves a world that will cherish and vault us
to the wild peaks of wonders we are wired for reaching

I Want a Mountain

by Marilyn Peretti
I want a mountain
because I'm small,

solid rock—
as a spine

to the faltering human
that I am—

a pale purple rock
that reaches through

ethereal clouds,
far beyond

the glitter 
of stars, clearing

for me my own
path to heaven.


by Arthur Voellinger
Whatever happened
to attention span?
Did it yield to
objects in hand?
Eye contact between
speakers and listeners
may as well be banned

Number 77 Belmont Bus

by Rita Yager
He sat close to me,
I held his calloused hand
it was bitter cold outside
we rode west, to Pulaski Ave.
then we got off, he walked
inside my high school 
met all my teachers,
smiled at of them.
I am sure they wondered
why he was so old
we left, went out into the dark
stood shivering in a doorway
waiting to retrace our route
eager to get home
my loving Father
who adopted me
traveled with me
through a rocky adolescence
taught me resilience
that stayed within my heart
years after he was gone
no longer there to accompany me
while I journeyed through 
the rest of my life


by Barbara Robinette
At sixty-four there is more
but since age seven
I've awaited my death—
at Uncle Joe's funeral
I learned we all die.

My mother did not ask me
to kiss his corpse.  What relief 
to stand in the twilight alone with God
yet with my family in a slanted room
full of shadows,

to be thankful for my mother's mercies 
yet frightened by my grandma's tears 
for her brother and to stare at it 
pale and coldly stern in a box 
and wonder why I am alive and here now.

Element Benevolence

by Terry Slaney
Wither the weather?
Withered sere or wet
We say "Hale!", but not "hail well met"
We fear the wicked and welcome the fair

So which is worse, a wall of water or whirling tornado
that brings worsening skies of green and yellow?
Then CRACK! with a lightening flash, drops to black

Bad luck for a day
Then, "Blue Skies Smiling at Me........"
Bring warmth and whimsey and honey bees.

Wither the weather?
Winged breeze or pelting hail,
We stand unable to control the elements
So face them with brave benevolence.

Christmas among the Pine Trees

by Rick Sadler
Imagine walking through the Pine
Trees on Christmas Eve so fine
By a small village many moons ago
A full Moon night with a light snowed
A Squirrel scampers up a Pine Tree
As a Rabbit hops by so wild and free
A Deer tiptoes through the tall grass
And a Red Bird flies by an open pass
Listen to the trees tell the story
They tell the birth of the great spirit son
Named Jesus as the most holy one
All the plants came to life and spoke
In human voices sort of like oldfolk
They orate of a silent day inside a Barn
Encircled by a Cornfield about this yarn
Though he was just a baby lying
In a feeding trough as he not crying
The baby child king was born to rule upon
This Sphere orbiting in space that we live on
Thus the Pine Tress had led the poet home
On Christmas Day as once he knew it
Dedicated To:  Brenda Sadler

The Waiting Room

by Mike Ruhland
"Good bye," she said, to all
and to no one in particular.
The old lady wheeled herself out of the waiting room,
the big city hospital neurology clinic waiting room.

"Good bye," I said to her.
She sat straight, proud, and strong.
As strong as she could.
Kindly smiling as she left.

Kindness free to all, though strangers we were.
But maybe she saw things we did not.
And perhaps we were not
strangers after all.


by Marie Samuel
In the middle,
sandwiched between
the exceptional intelligence
of my father, then my son,
home-life unfolded in daily twins:
supporting and nurturing.

Differences, high or low,
can evoke fearful
and mean jealousy.
Impossible, the essential
comprehension to go
where such bright minds
are isolated, those
of normal stuff shun
the gifted ones.

Home is a safer place,
but if not understood at home,
withdrawing becomes
the only choice. 

Afternoon Moon

by René Parks
at her desk, two blank faced monitors stare
stupidly down at her          

deflated balloons wave around the perimeter
of the secretary's vacant desk
as the boss's door swings shut 
early for the weekend 
glancing from the second floor
floor-to-ceiling windows, her chilled fingers squeeze
a cooled cup of nettle tea 

rifling through work files, she imagines
the secrets her woolgathering tendencies will reveal
when she's gone           
standing, navigating
recently packed boxes stuffed with cheap tote bags
and rolled travel blankets

purposefully walking with her now dry tea
not a soul in sight 
she fills her cup 
cool water runs through the loose leaves,
bringing them back to life,
making tea flavored water
returning to her seat, her head spins around imaginary obstacles
and freezes up with worst case scenarios 
finally, hearing the stairwell door compress under eager hands,
she gathers her things.
She walks toward her bicycle under the pale afternoon moon 

which has grown much larger in the spring sky.

More ISPS Poems | Haiga Gallery

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