Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
April 2013
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Poems on this Page:

Americanize My Assimilation

by Farouk Masud
Why can't you just let us be?
Why do you want to change us?
Can't you accept me for me?
You argue and make a fuss
Over every little thing,
Like the way we dress and act.
Then you say:  "The way you cling
Onto religion is whacked!"
I say:  "Why?  Because we think
That it is wrong to go out
On a date or have a drink?"
Stop real quick and think about
What it is you are saying.
You want us to give up right
Over wrong?  To stop praying?
I think this is impolite.
What would you tell a sad child
When he's told he's different
By other kids that are wild?
"Just be yourself.  Don't get bent
Or give in to their pressure,"
Is exactly what you'd say.
We are all grown and mature
Adults living our own way.
So please, spare me your jokes, lies
And traitor accusation.
We should Americanize?
Kiss my assimilation!

The Modern Grave

by Susan Spaeth Cherry
It simply won't do
in this day and age:
a tombstone that merely says
"loving mother"
or "he was magic"
along with the dates
the deceased touched down
on the world's runway
and later, took off
for a destination
without an address. 
So, my children, take note:
when my time arrives,
forgo the numbers, the epithets,
and even my name;
just chisel my stone
with a matrix code
so passersby
who want to know
my who what when
where how and why

can whip out their phones
and scan the maze
of tiny squares
that will take them online,
where I'll ever abide.

The Café

by Bakul Banerjee
Plans were to meet at the café, but she shied away.
Walking through the rain, her will melted away.

Coffee cooled before him – the descendant of Frey.
Thoughts of her on his mind -- he didn't walk away.

Why couldn't she hear his thoughts and weigh
his intentions before deciding to walk away?

The wind blew hard in the city. The sky was grey.
Snow sprayed crystals on her, as she walked away.

He might not care to make babies, or may betray.
Careful she always was – it's better to walk away.

The simple question was — what could she say?
I love you? Facing the truth, her will melted away.

Frey is the Norse god of fertility.

Flying Westward

by Marjorie Rissman
On an endless cookie sheet spread thin
slices of white bread lathered
with cream cheese
Neat as a rolling pin
miles in every direction
soon meld into dry whole wheat toast
winter's barren breakfast left on the plate
soon gobbled into waffles
powdered with cinnamon sugar
and chopped walnuts until
cool whipped peaks swirl
in unfamiliar patterns
reaching upward to meet
marshmallow fluff
sprinkled with dark chocolate flakes.
Occasionally a knife's sharp blade
cuts helter skelter through the bread dough
or finger prints of bakers' hands
make artful ridges in the pastry
capped with powdered white cheddar,
paprika, and just a pinch of dill.

A Late Snow

by Bonnie Manion
The white ground covering
stretches into an opaque sky 
like an empty page of paper
readied for a new story.

The dark trees all reach upward
into blank nothingness, branching
then diverging into a net of delicate
fingers begging something  
from the diffused sunlight.

They seem like so many hungry souls
grasping predictably
at the indistinct graces
of their annual Easter ablution.
A new season of faith?

Over time, trees will still be
branching and reaching; 
but come springtime
their faith will be vividly
crowned in green.

(First published by Creative With Words)

Morning Blend

by David McKenna
night is hollow
dark and deep

snow will follow
its gypsy hand
chilling land

stars howl
through cracks 
by a window

the children sleep

        without you 

being happy
remains an impossibility

I ache for you
stand         cup in fist at daybreak 
and weep

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
(Dedicated to the memories of Jon Benet Ramsey, Sherrice Iverson and Ryan Harris)

Sometimes I reach down to hold your tiny hand
And I come up feeling powerless and helpless and
Unable to understand, why I will never see you
Playing in a schoolyard, backyard or
Playground because someone decided to take 
What the world had found:

Three beautiful little girls,
With ponytails and bright faces
Whose pictures and stories have
Turned up in so many places
To tell stories of torture and abuse
To show the world that you refuse 
To die down and disappear
Because if you do I fear
That no little girl will be able to play alone
Without the benefit of a bodyguard or chaperone

Increasingly, day after day, I wake up
In the morning and I hear in the news that
Another little life has been taken by a crazed 
I then immediately think of my precious 
7-year-old and quickly react:

I say dear God, sometimes
I reach down to hold her tiny 
Hand, and I still come up feeling 
Powerless and helpless and unable to
Understand why I must never let go
Of her hand... But God, I still thank 
Heaven for little girls. 

Through Sad Eyes

by Curt Vevang
I was adopted a few years ago.  Time goes so fast I'm not quite sure

It's not that my adoptive family doesn't treat me well or that I'm not a
whole lot better off than I was, but deep down I can sense that I'm not
one of them. 

The way they look down at me. 

Sure they buy me nice toys, but I know the toys they buy for their
biological children cost a lot more than mine.

They tell me they love me, and I love them too - maybe even more so.  

But there was the time a few weeks ago when they had company and
they locked me in the basement.  As though they were ashamed of
me or something.

And then the crowning blow came just two days ago when they left
for Disneyworld.  I thought we were all going on vacation together
but at the last minute they dumped me at the neighbor's house to stay
until they got back.  Imagine how I felt.

The neighbors are nice but they're a little standoffish also.  For
instance they won't even let me sit on their so called "new" couch.

... and now I have to pee real bad.  You would think these folks
would realize that when I'm scratching on the kitchen door that I
have to go to the yard and pee.

A Tribute to the Illuminated Woman of World War II

by Irfanulla Shariff
Our humble tribute to you 
The illuminated woman 
Of Word War II
Oh! The courageous Miss Noor Inayat Khan
Great grand daughter 
Of the Sufi king Tipu Sultan
The Tiger of Mysore
You were bestowed 
With the highest military awards
For your splendid valor
Oh! The most charismatic heroine
Of World War II

Oh! The beloved daughter 
Of the legendary Sufi master
From whom you learned
The jewels of spirituality
Love, joy, harmony, 
Endurance and beauty
And when he passed away
You nurtured your mother 
And siblings with benevolence
We truly cherish your munificence
Oh! The kind hearted woman
Of World War II

Oh! The emblem of 
Purest beauty and grace
You, the poet and musician
You, the writer and champion of languages
Your stunning tales of inspiration
Now captivating the children's attention
You, the amazing air force lady 
You, the brilliant wireless operator
You are Madeleine and Nora
The master of disguises and aura
Oh! The dynamic spy 
Of World War II

Oh! The incredible tigress
You were betrayed 
And tortured with the high level of severity
Yet you stood firm and never gave up 
For the sake of humanity
You challenged the wicked hegemony
Fighting heroically
Against the horrendous evils
You sacrificed your precious life 
Uttering the last single word, "Liberte!"
Oh! The Freedom Fighter 
Of World War II

Oh! The Sufi princess 
You are the sweetest martyr
That we all madly admire
You are the icon of integrity
Dwelling in our hearts for eternity
You are now the radiant star 
In this glorious universe
May God, The Almighty, All-Compassionate and All-Loving
Bless your gentle soul, rest you in peace
And grant you the highest place in heaven
Oh! The most magnificent woman 
Of World War II

Just Some Old Guy

by David LaRue Alexander
I'm just some old guy,
the world has passed by.
Like so many others,
I had another try.
I know
there's not much more,
in store for me.
when I look back;
I see a lot more track,
behind me,
instead of ahead.
I would bet,
I'm not the only one
filled with regret.
For as I look around,
I see a lot more of us
down here.
People who fear,
opportunity came and went.
That their whole life has been spent,
for nothing.
who'd do anything for a second chance,
except something.


by John Pawlik
I like the company
of your noises
Cleaning the house
master of the ship
Never been able
to make it work
as you do
More than one place
it seems
at the same time
has your care
Moving the speed
of light hands
I feel dead things
in your control
come alive
and form a home
You smile
of your power
I wonder
how I lived
without you


by jacob erin-cilberto
i sat inside a raindrop
and watched the world falling all around me...


by Phillip Egelston
Slow to fist
brittle fingers hold fast
against the hollow heart
O crushing winter.

Ohio River Sojourn (Nov., 2003)

by Marie Samuel
If they said there are only months to live,
I'd creep to the river bluffs,
And sit in the sun for hours and hours
Watching eternal waters flow
Oceanward, rippling burdens onward

In a few days the cave would beckon
Its cavern a gaping yawn
For old ones to leave offerings
Til greed would reign for a time
Now the cave is my window to tomorrow.

But here by the house clouds streak by
Aiming to shine in the stirring water
And over its mirrored floor at dusk
Stars and the Moon greet world weary eyes
A proper place in which to live and die.

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

by Mark Hudson
Leonardo always had a tradition,
of never finishing his commissions.
Someone would assign an art project,
he'd start it, only to leave it in neglect.
Leonardo was not a religious man,
but God, nonetheless, had a plan.
The Last Supper was something he promised,
from Judas all the way to doubting Thomas.
To him, the Bible might've been a fable,
but he still captured the banquet table.
Up until that point in history,
no art created such mystery.
He used many people's faces for the apostles,
The wall it was on began to age like fossils.
Judas Iscariot, the ultimate traitor,
held a knife, pretending he was greater.
The painting was an incredible work of art,
it created the church of the Sacred heart.
The food and faces looked quite real,
it showed them dining on oranges and eels.
It also showed them drinking bread and wine,
He put lots of thoughts into his design.
Jesus took the bread that he blessed,
and passed it around to all the rest.
Leonardo captured it with precision,
I guess that God had given him a vision.
By the summer of 1497,
the last supper was looking like heaven.
Then came the "bonfire of the vanities,"
where Florence judged art as insanity.
art was destroyed and set on fire,
the Pope ordered the founder of this to retire.
Leonardo's art was not destroyed,
but most of it escaped into the void.
Even the Last supper barely remained,
Bad weather left it totally stained.
A French King wanted to steal it from the wall,
transport it to France, a piece of it all.
Different wars unsettled the piece,
all over Europe they prayed for peace.
The finite nature showed its limitations,
many artists tried imitations.
Modern methods have tried to restore,
this masterpiece that is hard to ignore.
But if you want to picture the way it looked,
Open the Bible, and read the book!

Blues Bar

by Patty Dickson Pieczka
Music has hardened into bricks.
Mortar of smoke and wine.
The door's mouth opens
to swallow me whole.

I become the ivory
on your piano,
vibrating back 
to my dampers 
and pins,

into my wires
as you stretch
to a perfect fifth.

(Previously published in
Talking River)

in constant touch

by Steven Kappes
they will send me notice
so they tell me
if I will furnish
my cell phone number
since I will always
have my phone with me
but for me
this isn't Star Trek
it is not my personal
it is only a phone
sometimes it is
in my car
on my desk
on the table beside
my chair
where I watch television
it is seldom
in my pocket
and I don’t have a holster
to carry it
like a gun
while for some people
their phone
is a lifeline
a constant companion
they cannot live without
for me it is a tool
handy when I need it
a nuisance
when I don’t

Two Butterflies

by Marguerite McClelland
Two butterflies alighted on my hand for a little while.
I touched them 
and they flew away before I was ready,
just a tad before I was ready.

I knew they would.
I know they're gone.
They will not come back.

They flit about 
in my rose garden 
just outside my kitchen window.

For just a little while.

They will not stay.

I must let them go.
I must be quiet.
I must not let them know that I am watching,
following with my aching heart
the distant flutter of their shimmering  wings.

I must let them go  …

The Creek

by Wilda Morris
Stay out of the creek,
Mother warned again
and again. You might
fall and split your head
on a rock. You might
get polio. What she meant
was You might drown
like your cousin Junior.
But in summer the water
ran cool and rainbows
sparkled between
narrow banks. Each
winter, the surface froze
a white short-cut winding
through the neighborhood,
an Arctic adventure awaiting
after school each day,
till a neighbor called
to tell Mother, I saw
your daughter in the creek
this afternoon.

(First published in
Rockford Review)

The Rose

by Barbara Voegeli
Donnie Voegeli
(1964 - 1991)
It began as a tiny bud, the promise 
    of its beauty and delicate fragrance
hidden within tender young leaves that
    enfolded and protected its essence

kissed by rain in the springtime of its life
    the rose felt the stirrings of its purpose
reaching toward the warmth and light
    the petals opened in answer to its song

drawn by its perfume, passersby paused
    to search for the source
enchanted by its radiance they caressed
    soft velvet and were blessed

in innocence the rose existed
    for the sheer joy of existence
unmindful of the benediction it
    bestowed on all it touched

with grace and beauty by love disposed
    it followed its destiny, petal and thorn
in predawn stillness the gardener came
    to gather the rose, though not full-blown

teardrops of dew clung fast to the leaves
    and half-opened petals of scarlet hue
as the rose lay in his loving hand he smiled
    then gently pressed it to his heart

Deluxe Box of Crayons

by Kathy Cotton
Beneath this pale Caucasian skin—
the skin of my mother's mother and father's father,
beneath this unremarkable brown hair
and behind these ordinary brown eyes
that are the eyes of all my family, even the dog,
beneath, behind, beyond this mundane commonness,
I am the Deluxe Box of Crayons: 
one-hundred-twenty unblended colors
scribbling exotic names—Cerulean, Burnt Sienna,
Mahogany, Maize, a crowd of immigrant pigments
unwilling to melt in my melting pot.
This Deluxe Box holds Fuchsia to attract hummingbirds.
Quaker gray for silent sitting. Outrageous Orange for
stumbling over politics. In the company of Blue, I can
match that patch of sky, her silk shirt, his denim jeans.
See me here, fiery Red as habanero; there—White as arctic ice.
Some believe I should defect from every hue but one,
become a solitary color's citizen, wear a single country's seal.
But I am the Deluxe Box, dressing my heart in tie-dye,
rainbows, confetti; waving on the hill of each moment
its hand-made, one-of-a-kind flag. I am the Deluxe Box
whose skin is red and yellow, black and white,
male and female, flower and beast, bright light and midnight.
Come close, look inside. Watch me search
my chameleon stash for a deluxe handful of myself
perfectly matched to you.

Local Phenomenon

by David Bond
The lithium moon sleepwalks
a misfit river. Stars like golden 
nail heads in the coffin lid of night.

Along this lobe of Big Muddy 
we worship a blessed bricolage of
trotline, slagpools, cold tablets

and a hollow porcelain cross	
rising to meet the second coming.
I think you should watch this

mildewed double-wide as
a child tumbles past a willow-
framed web of dreamcatcher

through a duct-taped fly screen
into the pet mouths of two
pit bulls and wakes with Jesus.

Our dead are not really dead.

A trophy buck steps lightly from
his shroud of woods into the red 
eye of a camouflaged .30-30 fetish

called sport and a boy's quick knife
parts the bouncing vein. Slashed 
kerfs of coal dust along a black spine, 

chokedamp cough from labor I loved
and, unexpectedly, a withered bronze
bough of tenderness. I think you

should know how the shadows of geese, 
songs wild in the October sky, can pull 
one's heart along to acts of good or evil.

That the twisted dogwood bleeding 
beautifully its crown of thorns and 
the wet jewel splashed on a white 

wing of snow are one single thing.

(Previously published in Big Muddy,
Volume 11, No. 2)

Three Roses in Heaven

by Rick Sadler
Dear  Moma  Mary  I  would  like to 
Intercede  for  my  friend
He  mourns  the  loss  of  his  Mother  he
Knows  it's  not  the  end
Please  Virgin  Mary  orate  to  him  that  death
Is  only  a  different  state  of  being
Death  only  changes  our  bodies  into  the
Spiritual  realm  we  are  not  seeing
I  heard  a  intuitive   voice  say,  " convey to
Your  friend  that  I've  closed  my  Mantle  around
His  Mother  and  she  has  gaiety  that  she  chose
His  Mother  is  safe  and  well  taken  care  of
In  God's  Holy  conclave
Should  you  ever  want  to   see  her  apparition
Just  close  your  eyes  and  be  brave
Think  of  a  context  of  your  Mother  from  the
Past  and  you'll  see  her  appear
The  woman  that  brought  you  into   the  World
That  you  deem  so  very  dear
I'm  just  a  channel   that  the  Virgin  Mary
Adopted  to  give  you  consolation
So  I   say  unto  you   may  peace  be   with  you
And  to  your  Mother's  spirit,  she  lives


by Pamela Larson
assorted shower gels
I pick a mood

Neighborhood Watch

by William Marr
under the reign of fears and suspicions
guns stare out the darkened windows
their twinkling sights
all aim at the deep hollow eye
of the insomniac night
Don't Move!
on the screen
Hollywood's heroes
engage in a ferocious fight
bullets streaking in the air
chant on and on and on
the sacred 2nd Amendment
soon the siren will sound
a mother's wail

Her Grace Returns

by Alan Harris
When one's Muse returns
from a multi-year absence
in undisclosed locales,
the avenues in the mind
host a parade of images.

The inner church bells ring,
confetti flutters down
from open windows,
mothers hug the children,
fathers hug the mothers,
and it is just a dandy time.

Her Grace rides elegantly
in the back of a convertible,
waving, throwing candy
to eager running children
and kisses to everyone else
on both sides of the mind.

After the parade is over
she enters one's abode
and seats her welcome self
within the heart of the soul.

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