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

Cloud Castle

by Patty Dickson Pieczka
We built this home
of tiny wisps,
polished to a shine,
puffs of drifting moisture
hammered and hewn.
In the courtyard
a swan pecks seeds of vapor.

We shift in our hammock.
He tells me white is not
his color. He longs
for a straight line,
for the click of a heel
on solid wood.
Ivory irises riffle
in currents of breath
as our voices rise

to a wind.
Up this high, air
thins like a web
drawn by gusting fingers.
The crystal door melts.
Arches stretch
into a cumulus leopard
smoking across the sky.

(Published in Talking River Review)

Letting Loose

by Bonnie Manion
Others have said, You don't know
how lucky you are!  I do have comfort
in the absolute faithfulness of my husband.
We think we want passion, but it's really
just hope we need.

I don't mean to be greedy, don't think of myself
as stingy.  What it comes down to is simply this:
love is a decision, always a choice to let it loose
or withhold it.  Yet I mourn our loss of passion.

There is solace in the loveliness that often weaves
through the predictable web of the hours.  Today's
glittering surprise of morning sunlight reflected
in a spray of dew across the green grass when you
turned tenderly to me in desire as we slowly awoke.
Sunbeams bestowed in colossal rays in an afternoon
cloudbank benediction.  The pastel sweep of evening
sky smoothly merging from blush peach to gilded gold,
rosemauve to hush of umber, to deepening indigo,
to the black oblivion of the velvety still night.

Lust & Relativity

by William Vollrath
     Think, really think…clear the mind of all that clutter from church and state, mother and father, intrusive media, past loves and past lives, find the inner stillness, then just really think, consider the true source of one's perceptions of reality, ponder the quantum nature of our consciousness, of all truths we hold dear, and embrace the epiphany that the basis of one's reality is merely our personal, flawed, thought process, our unique mental thunderstorms, and consider that the lovely, smiling object of your love, and even lust, is ultimately defined simply by the electrical impulses in one's spongy gray matter, and thus the "real" nature of the object of our most intense emotions may truly be wildly different from what we perceive, and just as a female snake probably looks more like Angelina Jolie than a snake to the male of the species, to the ultimate observer of our existence, we are likely not two, tall, tanned, godlike creatures at the pinnacle of the cosmic, evolutionary journey, but just slimy globs of non-complex, organic matter dancing to the music of our primordial, bio-chemical song.

(First published in Prairie Light Review, Fall 2011)

Caveman to C.E.O.

by Mark Hudson
In Paisley five Mile Point caves,
is where there were most Indian braves.
Now all that is left are graves,
souls the missionaries told "Jesus saves."
Archeologists are starting to explore,
there are startling facts they can't ignore!
The Clovis people were supposedly the first,
Who came from Asia, prepared for the worst!
No one knows when they arrived,
But in the long run, they haven't survived.
Recently new clues have revealed,
evidence that might have been concealed.
They've found bones under volcanic ash,
where different tribes used to clash.
Native Americans have DNA
that points to Asia far away.
A warming trend hit the ice sheets
Leaving the Natives on their feet.
Heading towards the Promised Land,
Till Custer took his final stand!
This was the country labeled free,
but what about the Battle of Wounded Knee?
Or the slaves who were stolen from their home,
The American Empire has become like Rome.
Strict bills passed by people in a lobby,
Politicians are starting to get quite snobby.
They say that God is always in control,
So should we feel guilty for the land we stole?
The American heritage, quite profound,
The people who fought are underground!
Your definition of freedom might be different than mine,
In the old days of Russia they'd wait in long lines
just to get a single loaf of bread
but now, the Russians are no longer red.
America is no longer a super power.
In the war of terror, we all cower.
The big picture is kind of getting creepy,
While Americans continue to get sleepy.
We're more concerned about who can wed,
than all of the soldiers, missing and dead.
So America, wake up! In case you forgot,
We're a melting pot, whether you like it or not.
We melt in a pot that cannot be missed,
Like porridge being begged for by Oliver Twist.
Some can only hope to come to our shore,
Those of us here seem to think that we're poor.
We don't operate on a dollar a day,
In third world countries they don't get pay.
Even with the country's deepest recession,
All it is is our latest obsession.
Occupy America protesters scream,
"Death to the capitalist American dream!"
They claim that Wall street is full of greed,
Yet they have enough money for a bag of weed!
We're all in the same boat, we're drowning together,
Global warming is the Grim Reaper's weather!

Wild Rabbit on the Run

by Rick Sadler
I remember a cold November day many years ago
In a ocean of harvested corn field we walked slow,
I and my two older brothers hunting for Rabbits
I was trying not to think about the cold that inhabits
My environment so as to act hard core like a man to
I was young trying to prove myself and my wet shoe,
The Beagle dogs were yelping not far as I could hear
We had to be ready cause we knew a Rabbit was near,
The rustle of brush and out the hare came running
I pulled up my automatic rifle and drew a bead  and fired
Many times but failed to hit my target maybe I was tired,
So the Rabbit survived the day cause I fired left handed    
I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn I was right handed,
I never forgot the sound of the Beagle dogs barking in chase
With out doubt they're the best hunting dogs for a Rabbit race,
I would love to go hunting with my two older brothers now
Not the years but the mileage and fate that got me somehow

Green Shade

by David McKenna
Green Shade
 Green Shade 2

Silo Derivatives

by Bruce Amble


by William Marr
she became dizzy as her head swirled
with the yellow pills on her sweaty palm
and could not decide
whether to swallow them
or be swallowed by them

in fact she wondered if they were 
the pills prescribed by her unfeeling doctor
or, in her desperation, the stars she grasped
from the sky last night

last night she kept telling her doctor 
what she needed was love
not pills
but he just stood there with a cunning smile
take these, he said, you'll feel better
in the morning

in the morning the room grew even darker
and more empty, she could hear 
echoes of her own heartbeats
or, were they heartbeats of the room
banging her head with all its walls

scattering in the night sky 
the yellow pills swirled 
faster and faster
like stars


by David LaRue Alexander
Before you let me go,
there are things I need to know...
Before you say good-bye,
I really need to know why.
Before we break up,
why is it we couldn't make up.
Before you depart,
tell me why you broke my heart.
Before you up and leave,
tell me why you had to deceive.
Before you elope,
tell me how I'm gonna cope.
Before I am forsaken,
are you sure you're not mistaken.
Before you try and flee,
you need to know what u did to me.
Before I'm left behind,
your gonna get apiece of my mind.
Before I'm all-alone,
Baby please,
please answer your phone!


by Farouk Masud
I don't need a wife.
I don't need a friend.
I don't need children.
I don't need parents.
I don't need brothers.
I don't need sisters.
I don't need love.
I don't need health.
I don't need wealth.
I don't need religion.
I don't need Heaven.
I don't need…
I need help.

I Changed the Lights

by Chris Holaves
"For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has
anything been kept secret but that it should come to light."
                                                                   Mark 4:22

I changed the lights around the house today
and replaced the old, round bulbs with the new,
energy-saving, spiral ones that use
fewer watts, last longer and cast more lumens
than the old bulbs.

I wanted to save energy and see clearly,
and so I had to make a choice.
I chose the daylight, coiled fluorescent lights
and rejected the soft white, not bright enough.
My choice increased the brightness in each room.

That's when I saw all the imperfections.
All the dusty, smudged, unclean places
stood out as black spots to my eyes.
What if these stains and soiled scratches
were my transgressions?

My misdeeds that had now been brought to light?
Flaws I had covered with shades of shadows?
Dirt I had never wanted to confront?
When my heart saw these hidden derelictions, 
my mind called for change and wonder—
Had I kept my offenses hidden in dim light
with old bulbs that cost me more to burn?
Living with hidden flaws takes its toll
like grime on dark floors or dull walls.
Sin's cloak is darkness to cover and camouflage.

I now see
I lived in shades of shadows in the light.

(First published in The Greek Star)

Narragansett Bay

by John Pawlik
          but gesture
    Distance between
     and symbol
    do you measure
       the depths
           of a glance
       the knowing look
                       its happiness
Or ask a heart
           to speak of whys
          its beating

CTA Train Ride

by Marcia Pradzinski
I watch the bicycle 
the bicycle moving away 
away from the train
the train speeding past windows
windows showcasing plants
plants hanging in doorways
doorways framing faces
faces that meet my stares
stares that look away
away from the trains speeding
speeding by their lives 
lives separated from mine by CTA cars
cars and their passengers racing
racing by day after day after day.

(Published in After Hours, Winter 2010)

Lunchtime Dispatch from Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

by Gail Goepfert
The green anole lizards along, puffs out
the dewlap under its neck, inches across 
the weathered fence rail, postures 
in the shade of his tiny domain. 

The pileated woodpecker sports 
his red workhat, pries off long slivers of wood in search 
of carpenter ants buried in the hollow-topped cypress—
home, kitchen, and drum.

The red-shouldered hawk cruises 
the swamp understory, scouts 
perches and preens, then performs its sky-dance—
an artist's flipbook in flight.

The great egret, white in a field 
of lettuce greens, edges  forward in the shallows, 
neck first, Zen-master of patience 
keen-eyed hunter as it stalks its prey.

The nursery log, fallen cypress
opens light in the canopy—
welcomes seedlings
insects, mosses, and ferns.

I set out hungry and fill my plate.

(First appeared on Bolts of Silk)

Triceratops: A Dinosaur Mystery Solved

by Larry Turner
The devotees of dinosaurs adore
Triceratops. His jagged neck frill, like
Some Elizabethan dandy, or
His three thick horns, each one a massive pike.
A Torosaurus’ horns have lesser weight.
He sports a smoother, rounder frill than Trike.
Two professors at Montana State
Have scanned the fossils of each dinosaur,
looking at all fifty. Just how late
In life did each one die? They learned for sure
That each Triceratops had through some fault
Expired while still a youngster, and what’s more
That every Torosaurus was adult.
Was that coincidence? They don’t think so.
Although to us the thought is difficult,
Each Triceratops was, they now know,  
A Torosaurus, but a juvenile!  
How could it be that as a Trike should grow,
The skull and horns and frill all changed in style
Until Triceratops that we had known
Became a Torosaurus? Think a while.
These features never grew as stiff as stone,
But pliable and plastic cartilage,
They never changed to hard, unyielding bone.
Triceratops adapted to each stage
of life. I too should greet the turning page
and never grow bone-headed as I age.

Good Friday

by Marguerite McClelland
Not a cloud obstructs the sky above Greece tonight.
The stars have never been so clear,
nor so many.
The hills tremble with light,
the streets, the houses, the fences
all glow in white dress.
The church bell sends a lonely note
through the crisp April air,
and fireworks crack afar
heralding the Resurrection.
The street flows with people,
overstepping the day.

I wonder if they hear the cries
of the young lamb in the dark alleyway,
or if they feel how the night is heavy.
The dogs yap in the distance 
as if against the smell of death.
The goats, the sheep,
raise their voices in unison,
and I wonder if it is their common fear
or the dumb repetition
of the first one's cry.

      The night breathes,
      into the young leaves under my window.
      I linger,
      wonder why I am so cold,
      why this jarring of the senses,
      why this weight beating my soul,
      why this dissonance
      of so much life,
      and hope,
      and promise,
      this unreality.


by Mardelle Fortier
Roses in the night and rhapsodies
  shining on the beautiful river,
the skater dances over a dream of water;
secrets wait hidden
   inside slide trombones
and the piccolo prances
  only to be forgotten.

Distant lights glide softly as a whisper
  in an ear,
stars wheel on an invisible axel,
piano notes fly up and glisten
  on the moon,
the skater floats held up only by love.

(Published in Quantum Pulp, 2006)

Nine Steps to a Poem

by Alan Harris
Get born.

Have a confusing
non-fatal childhood.

Grapple with religion
and let it think it won.

Work at a job that has
nothing to do with poetry.

Be amazed at how people
can act the way they do.

Revel and fail in love x times
before a settling occurs.

Struggle with y dilemmas
and escape z threats to life.

Fail to let go of an idea
that fails to let go of you.

Hold onto your pen while
the poem writes itself.

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