Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
April 2003
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Poems on this Page:

All That Is Left

by James Conroy
Upriver they cut trees
for the road.
Next summer will have a bridge.
Pop will sell his boat.
August, the preacher
will drive across in his old black Chevy
and hold the revival.
Not this year. Pop rows.
The preacher offers money.
As always, father refuses
and the reverend promises to pray for him.
This is not what Pop needs either.
He hears power saws biting
into bark.
Sees the trout pool at the narrow part.
Smells pine with wisps of gasoline.
Pop had prayers of his own,
pious and mighty ones,
torn away like logs downstream.


by Bob McCarthy
Joe has departed
a righteous Man has left us
most people loved Him

Your place in the world

by Thom Schmidt
Careful glimpses

Glimmers of

The Truth
Your truth

Revealed, grudgingly


In the shining eyes of a reader

She recalls your words

On paper

But only for a moment

The glimpse fades

And you
Search on

For what lies beneath

Bless This World

by Marthalyn Dale Smith
We need God's blessings more every day.
We need His guiding Hands from sea to sea.
We need Him more as we face dark times ahead.
We need God's shining light to lead us
through a world of fear and dread.
We need God to hold us all tight
till we can all see the world
through His eyes of peace and love,
for all who believe in the man up above.


by Barbara Cagle Ray
I watched my grandmother's skillful hands
As she stitched her quilt squares into place.
Some days she sewed with a beaming smile;
Other days, there was sadness in her face.

The days when she stitched with a happy grin,
She would work with patches bright and bold,
But on the days she stitched in sadness,
The fabrics she chose were very dark and cold.

Yet, when she unfolded the hand-made treasure
And spread it across the bed, we'd stare--
The dark colors complemented the light ones,
And a perfectly patterned quilt lay there.

Each day of our life forms a pattern, too;
As it nears completion, we'll clearly see
That it took both the light and dark patches
To make us the best that we could be.

The final product wouldn't be quite the same
Without the dismal days that bowed our heads.
How would we learn to cope with life's sorrows,
Without a pattern of dark and golden threads?

Skill Graces

by James L. Corcoran
Tuesday setting meetings at the races
going through the forms at the responsible rate
melting down the imagery apparent in the faces
hope the surgical notation does not view
a twist of fate.

Writing with a wizardry of index colored cards
at defensive nature streaking through the remedies of love
again at pouring objects thinking of the random shards
feel like cosmic consciousness coming from above.

There is no way to hammer down authority
it serves us as it will
the power comes from heaven
and it graces us with skill.

Different Perspectives

by Pat Petros
I visited my berry patch
before the sun had risen high
where green buds glistening with dew
would be ripe in a week or two.
Black and juicy fruit will grow
upon each heavy bending branch,
accompanied by the scratches
one expects in berry patches.
A black and yellow bumblebee
buzzed resentment around my head,
vibrating with his warning song
to tell me I did not belong.
I planted every berry bush,
working deep in the rich, dark loam,
not thinking then of bees whose claim
upon this earth is much the same
as one who makes a detailed plan,
so we will share this space, and I
shall give God thanks for rain and sun,
and bees that will not be outdone.
Anticipation holds delight
when I make plans and follow them--
hoping for outcomes that will match
the plans--in life and berry patch.

Neighborhood Picnic, Memorial Day 2002

by Larry Turner
Before we sit down to baked beans,
macaroni salad, Kentucky Fried Chicken,
Jack, the Vietnam vet, wants us to sing.
"Anchors aweigh," "From the halls of Montezuma,"
"The caissons go rolling along,"
"Nothing can stop the Army Air Corps"--
all these I join in with gusto. After all,
they are the songs of my Forties' childhood,
like "Old MacDonald," or "Itsy, bitsy spider."

Next Jack wants us to sing the song of his outfit,
"The Green Berets". Someone complains it's too long,
and I never learned it. When they finish,
I don't suggest those that stirred my heart
back then--something like
"Where Have All the Flowers Gone,"
"What Have They Done with the Rain,"
even the bitter, "With God on Our Side."

We finish with "God Bless America."
These days that's all you hear.
It's become the "Silent Night" of patriotic songs,
although it always reminds me
of King Ahab and the prophets of Baal. So
I stand

Positive Force

by Richard Oberbruner
In order
to hear
my leaves
I need You
to blow
my limbs

In order
to kiss
the beach
I need You
to roll
'neath my
sandy soil

In order
to build
a house
for all kinds
I need You
to support
the floors

In order
to shed
the skin
of my traps
I need You
to rub
out death

In order
to dream
I need You
to blind
me with
your stars

In order
to be a
positive force
I need You
to connect
me to

Morning at the Seashore

by William Marr
a little seagull
drawing a white thread
out of a motionless black dot
up and down to and fro
weaves the blue sky and the green sea
into a seamless splendor

The Color of Roses

by Mardelle Fortier
Skated by Yuka Sato
Small and oriental
bending like a flower

She floats in air
granted wings by a fairy godmother

When she turns
her white petals whisper of symmetry
of play and reverie

She spins
her dress the color of things
weightless and vanishing

Only the 5-petaled fragrance of love
on ice holding peace like a wild rose

Music the hue of a prism
drifting in mist

Only the body keeps time

Soul flies
in a piano-splash of leaps
and gleams

Only the ones who believe
ever see what they dream

Dove Missile

by Alan Harris
This afternoon in a chapel
in the desert mountains
northwest of Tucson
I was standing beside
a large plate glass window
admiring the landscape
when a dove flew toward me
at top speed not seeing
the window as a window

The silent chapel boomed
and the dove fell down
still resilient enough
to limp and flutter over
behind some vegetation

When doves become
missiles guided by illusion
they seem little different
from the murderous hawk

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