Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
April 2002
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Poems on this Page:

Still Discovering the Wheel

by Glenna Holloway
Something about being borne on tandem circles,
about two of them turning together;
something about surfaces reeling past
under a dome of migrating birds:
not as ancient as invention, not as overwrought
as spring or magic. But rare. Beyond price.

The feeling is powered by pumping legs,
so practiced you wonder if they continue
in sleep as lungs do. So automatic
they could be part of the frame you ride.
Sometimes you study them, newly bare
after winter, blushing before re-learning tan.

Often you share the trail with others,
see bobbing reds, yellows, ahead or behind,
part of the collage. Some pursue speed,
the wing-heeled god in silver spandex, always
in front, daring you to catch up if you can.

You can. You have. A hard lofty rush,
worth trying. Unlasting as a meal.
What it's about, what you want-- you can keep,
no assertions needed, no batteries required.
Chords get resolved in a higher key, your own.

Sometimes you'd swear you've left the ground
and the wheels are rolling on some other plane,
some new dynamic of chance balanced
on the curve of time, leaf-sifted air,
its pale streamers across your face, subtle
differences in the taste of blue and green.
New theories of relativity
approaching the outer rim of the possible.
Continuum of motion and space as home.

(Published in Trails and Timberline, 2001)


by Richard Oberbruner


by William Marr
jumping out of a wine cup
a mob of wretches dressed in black
push his head down
trying to drown him

he struggles and cries out

Turning Point

by Pat Petros
I walk the halls of memory
lined with pictures of the past,
and some are sweet unto my sight;
some I view with deep regret.

I weep the sorrow of remorse
for thoughtless words and acts of pride,
or laugh with joy for warmth and love
that freely given once was mine.

Each picture shows a different scene
evoking tears or pleasure.
As I go on, my life unfolds,
with all my past recorded here.

Those things less prized in years gone by
illuminate before my eyes.
What once I scorned, now I can see
for the true value of its worth.

I walk this path, and meditate
through labyrinthine twists and turns,
seeing my life more clearly now,
and latent possibilities.

I'm turning, turning toward the light,
with path now straight, now curved,
but ever onward toward the goal,
forever more to celebrate.

In the Shadow of the Design

by Susan B. Auld
When I found the doily
it lay folded,
forgotten among the trappings
of my family gatherings,

its unfolding released
dusty and hazy memories
intensified by the motion
of my hands

as I smoothed away
the creases.

Yellowed threads,
looped and knotted
by the strength of ancestral history

created a lacy snowflake
on the wall when held up
in the day's streaming brilliance.

I found my grandmother
in the shadow of the design.

I watched as she stroked my hair and
smoothed the doily over the headrest
of the stuffed chair in her parlor.

The sun moved and I lost her.

Two loose threads dangled
from the doily's edging
each going its own way

as generations will,
but still bound by the constancy
of kindred connections.


by Bob McCarthy
Good vs. evil

warriors are battling demons

women and children are under siege

fires are burning

the sky is gray

the earth is red

birds of prey are pecking at corpses

Bacon Sandwiches

by Sister Meg Holden, FSP
I remember .....
the smell of bacon cooking,
early in the morning,
5:30 a.m.
I hear the crackling sounds
of bacon strips,
cooking in the frying pan.

I see Mom at the stove.
Sitting at the breakfast table,
I'm engaged with her
in a morning conversation,
while the bacon slowly cooks.

Toasted white bread
awaits the bacon.
I remember .....
biting into the crispness
of a bacon sandwich,
cooked with love.

Design for Living

by Tom Roby
(Tao Te Ching, XI)
Poetic Metmorphoses
on Lao Tzu*
Thirty spokes
Share one hub.
The use of the cart
Depends on the part
That is void

We knead clay
To shape jar walls.
What it will hold
Inside this mould
Lies in emptiness.

Cut windows and doors
To craft a house.
The sweep of a broom
Will need enough room
Walled within.

From everything
We gain.

What isn't there
Makes the difference.

*The morphing is three fold: the title and design of the poem are mine, and I made the translation in a Taoist spirit from all the translations I could find.

Through My Picture Window

by Sally Hanson Calhoun
Through my picture window there resides
a massive bank of fir.
I watch it often, from my couch,
Yesterday, there was a winter storm,
and piles of snow obscured the green,
and the branches toward the ground were bowed.

Today the skies are blue again, and with the sun
the heavy clumps of snow
fell further, fainting, to the ground below.
The branches bobbed and rose again,
and bounced as waves upon a shore,
with mirth, tossed and jostled by the silent wind.

So goes my life. There are times when heavy snow
holds me down too. Every limb is pressed upon
until I stagger, then stand still,
waiting for a better time when I shall be

Then, just as I thought that it could never be,
the weight drops off, and leaves me free
to move again. As with the silent wind I dance,
as supple as that bank of greenery.

Frank Lloyd Wright Buries His Love

by Maureen Tolman Flannery
On August 15, 1914, while Frank Lloyd Wright was in Chicago, his mistress, Mamah Borthwick, and six other guests at Taliesin were killed when a cook poured gasoline through the house, set it afire, and attacked the victims with a hatchet as they tried to escape.
His unwilling knees bend, and he kneels
in wet grass, pushing into the moist dirt
of her grave, methodically, with precision,
as if it were a drafting lesson,
flowers that abound on the grounds of
Taliesin: dahlias, zinnias, Queen Anne's lace,
adorning her unmarked earthen crypt
with colors of morning, the scent of fresh day lilies.
This is as frilly as the clean lines
and pleasing proportions of his golden mean
will ever get, and yet never does he
Victorian a place with such fervor
as when he presses her nasturtiums
into the ground around where her face will rest.
As he lines her grave with their garden in the rain,
parallels and perpendiculars of his rectilinear
world gone amuck, pain spreads like a coffee stain,
brown on the blue lines and angles of his mind.

Water Droplets Are in Love with Green Grass Blades

by Dr. S. V. Rama Rao
Why do all these thousands of sharp arrows
Came together in one bundle and,
Pierced me with vengeance?
Or these arrows unexpectedly paying respects
To my feet of a "Guru"
In the great tradition of India.

Realization came to me in a flash
That I should be that "Drona,"
The mighty warrior--teacher of India.
The past lives of mine are projected
In front of my eyes one after the other
Every Hindu has many lives before this one.
Who am I in this live?
The arrows are digging open
The memories from the deep depths below.

Who is this unbelievable champion archer?
Who is this unparalleled sharpshooter?
To one and only I taught
This secret of special skill in archery
That was to "ARJUNA,"
The epic hero of "MAHA BHARATHA"--
The greatest civil war in India.
"Arjuna"--my dearest pupil--my blessings to you.
But alas! "Pandavas" the warring faction is no more
How could "Arjuna" be alive?
All have passed away--
Including me--"Drona."
From the memories filled past lives
And the present half sleep state,
Who could have dared to wake me up?
Except my own dreams!

When I was engrossed in my thoughts
Singing in a make-believe world,
Early in the chilly dark morning,
As I walk with my bare feet--
Icy cold water droplets began biting me.

On the pillows of fluffy
Rabbit ear tender plants,
In the middle of
Kissing, hissing, soft sounds,
Enjoined in an embrace,
In the trance of half sleep,
After the tender love act,
The sweet green grass shoots and
The plumpy water droplets
Are taking a deep nap
Without a twinge of a body movement.
Tender grass blades
Drenched in faint wet dreams
Are giggling merrily
Reflecting in the darling droplet's face.

When the drowsy droplets
Engaged in the sweet loving conversations,
While entwined in beloved's embrace.
A thunderbolt unmercifully
Shattered the tranquil love scene.
O! Cruelty!! You have no mercy.

Would not the droplets come together
As thousands of icicles to attack?
Would not the grass shoots
Sharpening their edges
Come together in bundles of arrows?
When they were trampled harsh
And crushed hard.

I feel guilty
For walking on them
Without knowing
That they are in the act of love-making.
I am graciously pardoned
By their lovers compassion for
Not transforming themselves
Into real dark scorpions
To bite me with their poisonous stings.
Thank God I am left alone
Without any harm.


by Larry Turner
Homage to Goldbarth "The Lives of the--Wha?"
You're looking well.

Why shouldn't I? I was only 20 when I was shot. And you--I can't believe it. You look so....


No. Grown up. You're dressed like someone from a magazine. The skirt, the--What are those boots?

Emu. An emu is like an ostrich, but not so tall. A friend in Australia had them made for me.

How'd you get here?

Heart Attack. Or did you mean why am I here, rather than...?

Heart attack, huh. I thought only men had heart attacks.

Not any more, if ever. And why are you here? I mean, you weren't all that good. You slapped me around. You kept me from talking to student wives. And you were rather racist.

Yeah, that's the funny thing. If I hadn't been racist, getting killed saving that Black kid wouldn't have landed me here. The rules are as crazy here as anywhere else. What happened to you after?

You left me in a hell of a spot. No money, no job, no education, and a six-month-old baby. Mom kept Joey while I went to school and then got a job as secretary with a publishing house. The pay was lousy, but there were lots of interesting people around. I started reading the books they published, and thought I could write better ones myself. With encouragement and a few hints from my friends there, I wrote The Cougar and the Countess. One of the editors liked it, and they published it. It ended up on the best-seller list, and so did six of my later books.

You mean there's a list of the top-selling books, like there is for movies?

Yes, that's right. And one of my books, Kabbalah and the Chorus Girl, was made into a movie. I wrote the screenplay. But what about you? What have you been doing here?

Oh, I'm in a state of grace. I just sit around.

You mean you don't --progress?

Why should I? I'm already here.

So we're back together again? For eternity?

Yeah, that's the way it works here. You, know--Bound on Earth, Bound in Heaven.

We  We  We

by Dr. Sarada Purna Sonty
"Hey! You! Why are you wandering?"

"Nay! Nay! I am just wondering!"

"Have not told me the name of you"

"Want to but all too mute!"

In this maze of nine way house
House to house counting doors
Under ground floors beyond pyramids
The room's numbers exceed myriads
Watching the games of 'vit and Mort'
Trying to cognize the tongues of the shadows
Scopes I can never be and the slopes never see
     "Once I am the ruler ruled"
My citadel, standing on the seven high hills
Mimicking Rome may feel severe chill!

If water finds it's level and fire its heights
The 'Vit' offers a score of claps to 'Wit'
You are my tent where philosophy whispers
The age less quest knows no shores
Seasons cycle by while you gaze at sky

I am the flare in the hair and the sweep of the brush
Land and ocean scapes life that flush
I am the swing in the song full of notes
Zigzag gaps that tied with knots
I am the roar in the rear of the cloud
Sure lurking spark in mating streams
My love began before my tongue
I now recall the potter's song I am
Which startled the silent stars

Member me dear! Remember me!
You and I! Inclusive 'We'
We both remain in each other's hold
Finding the level and height at once told.

Traitor Sky

by Wilda Morris
I shake my fist at you,
two-faced demon sky.
I despise your deceit,
your cerulean passivity,
the cheerful face you turn
to the earth today,
the way the sun
smiles down warmth.
You should darken your visage,
match the surreal sorrow,
the fear, weighing us down.
You should thunder anger
against all perpetrators
of hate, of vengeance,
against killers of innocents
and their dreams,
rain down tears of remorse
for your complicity,
letting planes lay ghost tracks
through you, ride them like rails
into structures
of so many lives.

Man Walking

by Alan Harris
There is a man
walking behind me
on Wood Street
in Chicago.

He can't know
my heart hums
a surging theme
from Movement 1
of Mahler's Tenth.

He can't know
why I am walking
on Wood Street
in Chicago.

And why am I?
It takes too long
to think about.

Who is this man
behind me,

What flavors
his feelings?
What burdens
does he carry?
What song
is in him?

I somehow am
this man walking
on Wood Street
in Chicago.

I am
his walkingness
behind me,
his grapplingness
with his day.

I can only know
my own form
but he and I
are breathing of
the same Breath.

Mahler's Tenth
plays on within me
as I enter a building.

The man continues
along the street
paying absolutely
no attention to me,

this man walking
on Wood Street
in Chicago
who I am.

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