Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
April 2015
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Sixth Grade

by James Reiss
Marbles in my pocket: the green shooter bright as a gumball
I could taste through my fingertips, the amber dobie known as
my Bengal tiger nestling between swirled onionskins, glass ducks
and the clay taw my right thumb nudged as if it were flicking aggies
in the schoolyard whose grounds brooked battles with Ed Martine and
Francis Sanchegrin, musketeers who had beaten their swords into steelies.

Sea O Sea

by William Marr
     -- the slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands, Denmark


Calm after carnage
the bloody sea
finally ceases boiling

Soon the night curtain will fall
to conceal the savage scene
letting the glaring red fade
into the deep dark corner
of unhumankind's memory

On Hope and a Wing

by Bonnie Manion
tiny cottonwood seeds, 
winging on goose down,
sail the spring air on
a hope or a dream

sail the westerly wind,
ride a purposeful breeze
like a flock of birds
all of one mind

stopped by any obstacle,
a rock or fence post, or
captured by flower petals
in a softer landfall

grains in gossamer wings
put down roots, send up
a shoot, then unfold whole
leaves, the start of a tree

(Published in Time of Singing)

Memories Ajar

by Pamela D. Hirte
  Inside a dark cabinet memories pile up and fade.  It is stacked with boxes 
  of aging  photographs,  albums,  and  framed  portraits - all  decades  old
  and some apart at the seams.   The weight of photograph albums crushes
  long forgotten secrets. 

 An aged Polaroid shows the  family  picnicking  at the ocean.      Pimento
 and cheese sandwiches with root    beer under   a   red   striped   umbrella. 
 Bruises peek out of swimsuits and sunglasses hide  stitches.      The photo
 marked:  A day at  the  beach.   A  still  life:  Two pig-tailed  girls  look in
 the dresser mirror as they hold their china face dolls.  The  two  daughters
 alone in their room - again. A wedding party:   The  gay  groom  with  his
 naïve  bride  and  hopeful  parents.     The   lives   of   the   family   in  the
 photographs disordered like the cabinet's contents.  Pictures  of  a   family
 with deceptive truths. The cabinet door barely closes.

(Published by The Milo Review)

Mama Said....

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Mama always told me to be careful of the company I keep,
She said Every shut eye ain't sleep.
Every good bye ain't gone
Only a dog wants a bone...
And a dog don't want it if it ain't no meat on it!
She said a stitch in time saves nine,
Always follow my first mind.
She stressed that charity begins at home,
We are all but library books on loan.
She said every tub must sit on its own bottom,
People will always point fingers at Gomorrah and Sodom.
She said life is too short,
Live, laugh, love and make him court.
She said you lie down with dogs you'll get up with fleas,
She reminded me to always say thank you and please.
She said you reap what you sow.
Everything that is sitting high on this earth
Will one day sit low.
She said the mighty do fall,
Short folks wanna be tall.
Every dog has his day,
It's a poor wind that doesn't change,
Don't show your teeth to every guy you meet.
No pain no gain.
Mama said while you are digging a grave for me dig one for yourself...
Because something in the milk ain't white...
Don't let somebody sell you any wooden nickels,
You gotta be smarter than the equipment 
You work with...and in the drawer you gotta be the sharpest knife!
If it was a snake it would have bitten you.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
There is always a lesson to be learned.
You can't have everything when you wake up,
She said see a Penny pick it up and all day long you'll have good luck.
Fool me once shame on you 
Fool me twice shame on me.
She said crows only pick at the best fruit
She said all God's children need walking boots.
She said it takes all kinds to make a world.
She said I can show you better than I can tell you and keep living.
Because trouble don't last always and
There ain't nothing new under the sun.
Believe in yourself if you want others to
Believe in you because
Further on up the road 
Time will tell.

Your Last Haircut

by Jill Angel Langlois
At your last hair cut
Miss Julie said you wanted
to look out of her window.
Curious until the end,
a sight you hadn't seen before.
It was almost spring.
I'm sure you saw a bird or two
and it brought back your kitten spirit,
and your yearning to run,
and hunt, and eat grass.
I'm sure you lurched forward
into those memories and that yearning,
even though your young spirit
was trapped in an old cat's body;
a failing, declining body
that didn't work so well anymore. 
Miss Julie said you were good for her today.
Talking about your behavior
during your last haircut seems disrespectful.
For God's sake you were dying!
We just wanted you to feel good
and get cleaned up.
We wanted to get all the knots and mats off of you
so you had less to deal with. 
In the midst of struggling through your last haircut,
and trying to be a good boy,
you took a moment to look out the window,
to remember, 
to enjoy, 
to be curious, 
to partake of life, 
to simply want.
That's all we ever wanted for you. 
Just to be the cat you were,
and to be happy.

Tiny Trickle of Red

by Kathy Cotton
Even now, in this sleepy room
scumbled by the rub of time,
there is the bright trickle of red.
Even now, a decade past
and the cherry-wood chest and dresser,
the chair and bed all rearranged
like chessmen on a checkered board—
white king toppled off the edge, 
black queen moved to another square;
and still, that bright bit of red
and you, morning-lit against
a pale east wall, cozied in the safe narrows
of a sterile rented bed, cool washcloth
damp in my hand, touching your fiery face
as the last sigh slips to air, that tiny trickle
staining your sweet mouth.
Even now, the living warmth
of your breath, your blood, curved bone
of your cheek beneath my fingers
softly lingers in this sleepy room.

Tulip Time

by Michael Escoubas
(An Etheree inspired by the Calendar Art of Colleen Eubanks)

green lawn
rings the house
fringed by a fresh
tulip uprising—
pink, yellow, red, and white,
paint the white-stone path rainbow
bright—fresh reminder that when God
makes a promise He does not forget
to tell us daily—I Am Who I Am!

Love Is In Nature As My Nature Is In Love

by Rick Sadler
A Rhyme for Monica Mary
The warm clouds were moving so very fast
In front of the night's full Moon flowing past,
Reminds me that life is to short for feeling sad
Trying to see the good in every one evil or bad,
I see the blossoms of the Dogwood tree
The soft breeze makes them sway in this my fantasy,
As their flowers tells me to amend my all, my life
Purple is the color of my penance of all my strife,
I can hear the night sound of the Whippoorwill
A bird I've never seen beyond my window sill,
The creature calls for it's mate but no answer back
Still my heart was put in a lonely green Rucksack,
I was running after the Fireflies following their glow
Amazed how they danced in their lovely light show,
Then they pointed the way to my first real love
A pretty woman that fits me like my Baseball glove,
I recall watching a Raccoon down by the creek bank
Washing it's paws in the muddy water as I thank,
Monica Mary for washing my daunted soul so clean
She showed me this vision of me when I was fourteen,
I love watching the Squirrels playing on the ground
Their quick movements in the tall grass with no sound,
This lady that I love to me is so strong and amiable,
She returns her love to me so strong and very stable,
So beautiful is the Cardinal bird that always stays
No matter how cold the winter is a Redbird survives a day,
Such is my love for Monica the miracle given to me 
I hope our love will endure as the Redbird that I see,
Monica inspired this muse the person that I'll always adore
She is my wonderful counselor and friend who opened my door,
Such a beautiful name meaning advisor of the truth so gracious 
I'm very happy that I meet her in my destiny so precious
inspired by :  The Virgin Mary
My Sweet Holy Poltergeist 


by Farouk Masud
we walk like pacified zombies,
walking down hallways
of programmed inhumanities,
treading through flooded fields 
of butchered guinea pigs.

We are desensitized clones,
roaming in a world
of make-believe and deception—
a world of counterfeit human beings—
people born without souls 
or benevolence.  

We know not who we are,
what nationality we are,
when we were born,
where we were born,
who are parents are,
what religion we follow...
we only know that we are numbers—
my number is C100976.

All we know is that 
we must work,
we never breed,
we must work,
we never sleep, 
we must work,
we never smile,
we must work, 
we never cry,
we must work...
the only ones that know how to laugh 
are the corporate gods,
leaders of the one-world economy,
they laugh often.

A daily cliche
of systematic production,
profit-making of the highest zenith,
commercial creativity at its most infamous
where only dynasty and wealth matters.

And when we die
we get no funeral services,
no coffin,
no tears or remorse,
except for men in white vans
wearing contamination suits
who haul us away
like road kill.
The only thing we remember 
is that we are back to work the next week,
getting blank looks
from people we used to know—
or thought we knew—
familiar, yet unfamiliar, passive faces.

We have no past, present or future.
We keep coming back from somewhere,
maybe purgatory,
maybe hell,
all the same to us,
with a brand new number, 
working in the same place,
working with the same masses
of brainwashed, unlucky numbers,
doing the same thing 


Oh How She Sleeps

by Phillip Egelston
the old bear
pounding out
her passage,
her pounds pounding,
She pounds her message 
Pounding, she will not leave;
but, hoisting
her slow bulk,
shaking dead trees
her dry dark 
hair.  She falls
full.  And
how she

Mrs. Phelps

by Gail Denham
Up there, middle of a quiet sidewalk,
small groups of brave, hopeful green
pushes its presence, in spite of Mrs.
Phelps' attacks on weeds, stray
blackberry vines, and baby junipers,
which everyone knows grow to adult
trees who drain the ground of water
meant for proper trees such as her
prize aspens.
In the driveway, pavement bulges
from oak roots – the oak she nursed
to health, and which guards her favorite
pink azaleas – regularly trimmed, fertilized,
petted and photographed, so all her friends
on face book can enjoy her marvels.
Meanwhile, the brave, hopeful green
continues to push up through cracks
in the sidewalk, driveway, and along
the path to Mrs. Phelps' front door,
determined that the good lady should
experience diversity.

Night Crawlers

by Jan Presley
In the way we remember
early circumstance,
in bright fragments of image,
I am two
and holding my father's hand
and leaving the kitchen glow
for the side-yard
My mother has dressed me
in yellow. 
       Petticoats starched
stiff as seashells cut at the knee.
I am the laugh
my father will have on my mother:
he takes me out to the dirt
to dig for worms.
        Under the hedgerow they
crawl at night, jelly-and-wet-sand bodies
long as my arm.
I catch them
in the light from my father's hand
as he whispers and laughs
and shows me these ropes,
these tender, enduring
unearthings in the darkness,
shining a light
on a child's inclination

to take them into her hand.

Papyrus, Fall 1988)

Learning to Fish at Tortuguero

by Wilda Morris
The tiger heron, unafraid of caiman and hawk,
oblivious of our boat slipping camera-close,
lifts one long leg, then another, steps
into shore-line shallows and shows us how to fish.
As he dips his stippled head up and down, ever-moving
water brings its sacrifice to the altar of his beak.
Could I be so bold in these waters alive with wild creatures,
beach and boats inhabited by earth's most wily predator?
Could I learn to let the flow of life pour sustenance into me,
live for just this one day, this one moment, this one meal?

Originally published in Red Silk: A Red Tent Anthology,
ed. by Editorial Board at Womanspace
(Rockford IL: Womanspace, 2011).

In the Winter of the Polar Vortex

by Sheila Elliott
.....An icy stem, trim as a fencing foil,
Clung to the enameled lip of an old soffit
Feeding on milky snow melt from above,
While the cold air sang forever
The 'Ballad of the Orphaned Winds'.
It had found its way here
Then ended singing background vocals
Down every empty street and boulevard.
The snowman's stony smile
Hung around for days.
I watched....
                  from inside. I saw that foil
Beget a spear that grew knuckles
Tough as wind-chill ice, then watched
In real-life time —saw the spear morph,
Become a monster's wing—
Pin itself in a promise of cold taxidermy
Sure to last forever.  It became instead,
A frozen wave that would never break.
Until the day it did.
                                Fall, that is,
Thick and weighty as a rind of fat.
I blame the grim cleaver of warm wind;
I only saw shards. Those
Odd, dissimilar things, fell from that cold root,
Rescued by a nest of forsythia
Branches  still waiting to bloom.

giddy up girl

by Gay Guard-Chamberlin
remember back when you were a
giddy gritty city girl  
your head packed full with books
full of horse love
not much horse sense
				giddy up and yippee kiyay

tamed and gentled
well-trained well-bred
stuck in the car carsick
sick of nothing to do
nowhere to be
nothing to see

but a herd of relatives
in the front seat recounting the dead
remember how you pressed
your hot face
to cool green glass
counting off tree grass rock cloud

				whoa nelly slow down

something moved up a hill
whirling swirling red dust
danced in the air
fast as a shot
wild horses running
running for their lives
a mantra galloping into your memory
				they are real	they are real 	they are real

the chant ran on and on
like horses no one else saw
you quick-folded the moment

				Equus Caballus abracadabra

hid it in your secret pocket
waited for your own wild life
to begin

(Previously published 3RD PLACE 35th Annual Jo-Anne Hirshfield 
Memorial Awards, Evanston IL June 2013)

The Magic Window

by Marguerite McClelland
I sleep
a sleep
I've never slept before, 
where granite yields to air 
and finds the shape of flowing streams, 
where fire freezes brittle stone
and glaciers pulse, aflame, 
where mountain spires stand low
beneath the valley sands 
and night
lights up the sea without a moon
and noon
obscures the land
which sings its silence to itself alone.
      Something I've known,
      something I've always known,
      and I know you too.
      And two
      loosed from chains, yet linked
      and in this bondage, free,
      never more
      and never less than God,
      in the equal WE.


by Irfanulla Shariff
Tiny shiny white
Crystals tumble from the sky
Icy diamonds from heaven
Swirl around the trees
In our backyard
With love and affection
These trees
Once filled with leaves
Are fully perfected
By the immeasurable
Beauty of snowflakes

Out of the Black Smoke

by Alan Harris
(First two lines
paraphrased from
The Voice of the Silence
by H. P. Blavatsky)
Out of the black smoke
winged flames arise.
The furnace of living
refines as it destroys.

Black smoke
billows up just now
for a coming purity.
The Refiner observes
our age-long process
of combustive growth,
and patiently awaits.

Black smoke
of doubt and trial,
error and despair,
dissolves by degrees
into a clarity
and a loving
within any and all
who persevere.

Let our hearts flame up
out of the black smoke,
arise beyond pain
until pure enough to
fly to the rim of bliss
and cross into it.

(From Recent Poems)

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