Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
April 2017
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Poems on this Page:

Rain at Noon

by Bonnie Manion
seems like an ablution
poured on waiting trees,
their glistening leaves
opened wide with desire,
uplifted for the gift

and the spendthrift sky,
purely white to each 
horizon, cries tears
that drip, drip, slipping
softly from petal lip 

to lip, watering the land,
soaking into soil and sand
to slide down rock and root,
lathering the swollen chutes

(Published in The Penwood Review)

O Spring

by Jill Angel Langlois
O Spring - I look upon you with contempt
Your budding trees and flowers I resent
The scent of grass and warmth of breeze
Your shrubs and bushes grow with ease
O Spring - the mother in you I lament

O Spring - I look upon you and abhor
Your changing cycles I can’t ignore
The lilac bush, the marigolds
The Easter lily as it unfolds
O Spring - I loathe the very thing you stand for

O Spring - I look upon you with grief
Upon the opening of each new leaf
I am a fallow Hawthorne tree
No fruit nor flower for bird nor bee
O Spring - to what heir do I bequeath?

Grief Ghazal Variation

by Jenene Ravesloot
A sudden wind strips the Ailanthus leaves.
A cold half-moon rises.
Voices recede like distant waves.
The six-year cicadas have stopped singing.

Lights and shadows race across the bedroom
ceiling then disappear.
The air purifier no longer hums.
The six-year cicadas have stopped singing.

A moth pulses in a web of silk behind
the torn window screen.
Empty picture frames gather dust.
The six-year cicadas have stopped singing.

Puppets can’t dance anymore. Your turtle
and its plastic island are gone.
The blue wallpaper peels and fades.
The six-year cicadas have stopped singing.

(Published in After Hours Press)

Why Do I Write?

by Idella Pearl Edwards
I write because I’m compelled to write
By an urging deep inside,
And all the while hoping that others
Will go along for the ride.
I write to add layers of zest and meaning,
Infusing each life with flavor;
Planting seeds of hope and potential,
Producing ideas to savor.
I write to leave a legacy
So others may climb higher,
Scribbling words on plain white paper
To encourage and inspire.


by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Seen about a thousand hearts broken into a million pieces,
Still teachers and students have to write books and thesis.
Reporters come out and write newspaper articles,
About the changes in Cabrini which contains particles
Of my childhood existence...
Photographers documenting and taking video footage and pics,
As a former resident I am sending out sincere prayers and wishes.
To the remaining four thousand and seven hundred,
Who still call Cabrini home and must lay their heads.
In the place that I once called my home,
A place where thousands upon thousands have roamed.
I am going to take time out to acknowledge the bad times,
Because too often people talk about the good times.
Yeah, bodies dropped, bodies where violated,
There was urine on elevators and I saw the remains of dogs that defecated.
In this place where I learned to read and jump rope,
I most definitely saw the after effects of dope.
But please listen and don't get it twisted,
This was my home not a place that I VISITED!
This place is where I dreamed of one day becoming a writer,
I still see rainbows, tin men and a much brighter--tomorrow.
Because I believe that God's intention was not for us to remain in sorrow.
I've been a lot of places and have forgotten a lot of names and faces,
But not those of people I knew growing up in the Green's
Spent my formative years catching hell and happiness and capturing scenes.
I'm getting older now.
A touch of gray is hitting the brow.
But I can't complain because I know that wisdom comes with age,
So in closing, I want to thank you for taking time to read about my life on this page.

Sometimes I watch the movie
Cooley High in reverse 
Because to me the ending is the worst.

Another poem about airports- Spring Break 2017

by Mark Hudson
Went on a Caribbean cruise, on the way there and back,
I found that I had difficulties knowing how to pack.
My dad said “Make a list,” but I was not alert,
when I got there I realized I packed no shirts!
We stopped in New Jersey to switch to another plane,
the zipper on my suitcase broke, what a pain.
I transferred my stop to my nephew’s back pack,
sweating so hard I thought I’d have a heart attack.
Sitting in a restaurant, my sister, her son and daughter,
so thirsty, I asked the waitress for a glass of water.
She brought bottled water out; she gave it for free,
She was beautiful, and kind to be so nice to me!
I told my nephew,” The trip going takes longer than the return,”
But it’s not always true, as I would come to learn.
To Florida we headed, the plane flew at night late,
we all slept a little, arriving at night in the sunshine state.
The Caribbean cruise itself is totally another story;
I’ll save that for a different poetry category.
But now on the trip back, from a glorious vacation,
certain things happened to cause great frustration.
We arrived at the airport eight hours too early,
and I thought I’d relax and not get so surly.
But just when we thought it was time to board,
the plane was delayed two hours, I said, “No, Lord!”
And that’s when I started to have a dirty look,
and then on top of it all, I lost my book.
A stranger pointed out it was below my chair,
I cheered up, even though I wasn’t in the air.
Then when the plane had finally arrived,
the people getting off probably barely survived.
The plane was having some mechanical issues,
we got on, the smoke made you need tissues.
So they boarded us on, we had to get back off,
the smoke from the engine made people cough.
A man in a wheelchair brought on a guitar,
he was perplexed he didn’t get very far.
He insisted they bring his guitar to his hands,
but they switched all the luggage, despite his demands.
They were brought to the next plane we’d get on,
I got off the plane and raced to the john.
One lady spent her birthday in the airport stranded,
I was so grateful when the new plane landed.
By that time, it was four in the morning,
angry passengers threatened their warnings.
We went to get luggage far and underground,
then had to catch a shuttle to turn around.
We had one stop to go when the shuttle shut down,
we got off and walked, but our location was found.
We had to wait for a bus to go to my sister’s car,
someone slept on a couch indoors, the door was ajar
at some point because some birds got inside,
trapped in the airport, while we waited for our ride.
It took a half ‘n’ hour for the bus to get us,
we got off the bus at the place where the car was.
By this time, rain was coming, it was drizzling,
I was used to sitting in the sun, my skin sizzling.
As we walked in the car lot, the gate went down,
missing my sister’s head, which could’ve caused frowns.
“After all that happened,” my sister the one who said it,
“Wouldn’t that be ironic, if the gate left me beheaded?”
So she dropped me off at home, as rain came pouring down,
I could not believe I was back in my hometown.
But no vacation that one takes ever lasts forever,
I must maintain my gratitude, regardless of the weather!

Young Night

by Frank Hubeny
Light can come from anywhere.
The Sun won’t interfere
Though earlier it owned the sky.
The Moon is full. The buildings rise.
The snow-like stars and star-like snow
Reminds one of the cold.
There is a bridge from here to there
And back again from there to here
Off-center and below
That maps attempt to document.
Is there a narrative in this?
Has someone sent a secret kiss
That sets in motion someone bold?
Is there somewhere some consciousness
That daydreams as the night grows old?
This night’s still young too wise to care.
It’s cloud-hazed, bright and anywhere.

If I Told You

by David LaRue Alexander
If I told you
     how beautiful you were
             you wouldn’t believe me
Because first
    you’d have to admit it
                 to yourself
And you can’t do that
    I don’t know
But what I do know is….
Your smile is so radiant
                      it lights up a room
Your laughter is so joyful
              it’s contagious
Your eyes are deep tranquil pools
         which transform
in an instant
         into flames of desire
Your voice resonates
             with the harmony
of an angel’s choir
     And you move with the grace of a ballerina
You are that person
       that forms deep and lasting connections
                with those you love
Proving that the strongest steel
         is forged in the fiercest fire
If you don’t believe
                  you're beautiful
            just the way you are
Try looking at yourself
            through my eyes
And then tell me what you see….

At the Vocational Training Center

by Kathy Cotton
He will be a single sentence
in the feature story that cannot 
include my worth-a-thousand-word
photo of his startling eyes, 
the shadows on his calloused hands 
as he fits raw-side canvas fingers

on the glove-turning machine.
This man can’t sign the photo release,
not even an “X,” cannot offer
commentary about his tedious task.
I imagine his pittance pay
cashed for cigarettes,

some state hospital aide leading
him to face the rec-room wall
with its built-in bullseye lighter,

small warmth of the unseen glow,
curls of smoke painting his lungs
to match those cloudy eyes

that never see glove after glove,
year after year of gloves
with neatly tucked seams. 

I wonder what he thinks
about his work, wonder what a man
born deaf and blind can think

without words.

(From Encore, 2016)

Westward Home

by Pamela D. Hirte
Miles and miles away he finds a new place to call home.
Out west canyons are wide, mountains soar.
His name echoes from afar.

Mountains, rivers, rattlesnakes, and red rocks beckon,
while freedom flows in on a breeze.
This rugged land is a dream asleep in the wild.

Hiking through coniferous forest, pine aroma seduces.
A moose appears on the trail ahead;
he freezes, lets the behemoth pass.

Vistas reveal the stirring beauty of the west.
Bison bellow beyond sunset.  
Westward home.

(Published by The Raven’s Perch, 2017)

timbered whispers

by jacob erin-cilberto
love is encrypted
in wandering hearts,
the etchings of a deep rooted longing
fossilized feelings
the bones of trust
yearn for the skin to tingle one more time
exceptions mushroom in a forest of frustration
giving up to the rain,
but still feeling malnourished
yet some stop,
catch the scent of hope
as the leaves rustle
above the rustic graves
stones pause
a bit of a rivulet
like a tear
might just dissolve into garish ground
or coagulate
into a small stream 
of closeness
as skeletal hands
hold each other tight
and emotions find new spring.

Broadway and Devon

by Susan T. Moss
My car idles at a long red light
while city traffic creeps past,
and an old man, bent at forty-five degrees,

clutches two grocery bags dangled close
to the cracked sidewalk where he slides
each foot forward into gnawing west wind.

I sit armored by glass and steel
against cold blasts; the broken stranger
keeps shuffling toward the light.

As we wait for a green signal, 
the landscape of our lives
briefly intersects before he blurs

toward obscurity in the rearview mirror
and I swallowed by rush hour gridlock,
look for the next sign of hope.

Together Alone

by Joe Glaser
side by side
parallel lives stretch out like rails

peering expectantly ahead
toward the vanishing point
where perspective paints
an illusion of convergence
 - drawing out vain fantasies

side by side swinging
resonant hammers
like trackwalkers
striking random notes
 - a word echoes here
 - a laugh jingles there
 - a barb screeches smooth steel
the sticky sounds of dissonance
clamor for connection

side by side eyeing
a gingerbread station
rising on the horizon
offering escape into Disneyland
wishing on a star 
 - a respite at least
 - perhaps even end-of-track    
the promise of a new paradigm
floats in the air

lonesome bells soon toll plaintively 
signaling soft frustration
dialogue becomes monologue
emotions swell and sag as
parallel rails reach out again
relentlessly side by side
through Fantasy Station
exiting toward the horizon
side by side encased
in rusty ancient armor
shielding shadowy shapes 
ghosts cradling unburied relics
grasp for resurrection in an
inchoate fusion of past and present

parallel lives stretching out like rails
held firmly apart
by deep ties

alone together
together alone


by Gail Denham

skies, laced
with clouds, pose
over my green
world; radiate
hope and great joy
that God’s so
near to

Woman in Winter Woods

by Lennart Lundh
She is not as tall as the photo suggests,
though not diminutive by any means.
The long, black coat against the woods,
the open-toed heels rising from snow,
convey an early Greta Garbo gauntness,
but far from a desire to be alone.

The winter that surrounds her descends
as a blizzard on his heart miles away,
but only briefly obscures memories
he meant to hold as clear as permanence.

In her right hand a cigarette,
paler than slender fingers.
He finds himself suddenly longing
for that splendidly dangerous touch,
jealous of the smoke that issues
like a memory from her mouth.


by William Marr
     -- for a famed 12-year-old girl writer in China

from hearing the word flying
thinking of flying
longing to fly
learning to fly
flapping her wings
she finally 
soared high into the sky
amid the applause and cheers
that was when she realized
the immensity
of the universe

going on

by Steven Kappes
to go on means something
not sure what
determination or destiny
or perhaps just a sense
of obligation
to give it your best
even when your best
not appearing what it seems
isn’t much of anything
everything reminds
a voice whispering
a glance across the room
a smile in the morning
a flip way of walking
but I have to keep going on
time dulls all pain
memory isn’t what it once was
little bits slide away each day
until one day
some day
there will be only vague recollections
maybe not enough to hurt
that’s what they tell me
even if I don’t believe it
I still try to go on

Luck and the Black Book

by Georgiann Foley
Searching through his little black book
the red haired young man
gave up after section E.
How could each woman not fit
in time, type, or looks?
Seems like every single woman
he would encounter had her name
dropped upon one of his thin blue lines.
Back to that leathery resource.
Flipping the pages quickly
like a fan he came up with a plan.
Let's start with Z to P,
and then I'll start to see 
if there's a chance for some romance.
Luckily there weren't many names
for  Z, Y, X, W, V, and U.
Phoning women under section T --
Remember me? Fine. 
How about a date? No go. Mercy!
By the time he reached section S
he began to feel some distress.
Charging through section R
he had some hopefuls, but still no YES.
Pressing on he sped through Q
and landed on section P.
Who was that beguiling woman
who tooled around with his friend Donald?
The dark haired beauty? Rosemary P.

Quickly he dialed her number,
and persisted with his banter
in spite of her bored manner.
I'm busy, she said, busy all day tomorrow.
He suggested, How about an early morning date
by the lake? 

By the palest pink of early morning sky
the next day he held hands with Rosemary
as they sat on the ledge of a rock wall.
Not to worry, not to worry at all.
He could feel her attraction, her pull
to his touch, and he stole a kiss.
Z to P saved the man,
and one more thing saved them both.
That was some humdinger of a kiss.


by Michael Escoubas
in the warm light
of a just-published poem
is like sipping coffee
and eating purple grapes
in a sunny chair--
rather than plunge
right off into new work
like a wolf after red meat
I take a few hours to savor
something that gave pleasure
to myself and to another
this basking is like the surprise
one feels when a drop of dew
clinging to a tulip’s lip
lengthens itself down the stem—
this warm light this
comfort-food feeling this
one small indulgence--
my therapy against taking
anything in life too seriously

Total Lunar Eclipse

by Irfanulla Shariff
It was a magical night
The sky was lit
By the glory of Luna
The full moon
Pondering this majestic night sky
I witnessed
The total lunar eclipse
The nature’s grandest spectacle
The hypnotizing beauty in action
The dazzling scene
Of the blushing bride
Luna covering herself
With the charming reddish orange veil
The spectacular alignment
Of Sun, Earth and Luna in syzygy
Breathtaking sight to behold

Time Travel

by Sherri Baker
Soft notes play in the background,
a day to relax, no place to go.
Drifting away, the lyrics grow louder,

Mr. Dylan telling me it's alright,
he's only sighing. But with slingshot
precision I'm time-traveling back,

listening to my mom sigh.
Dylan could write about it,
but no one could out-sigh Mom. 

She had a sigh for every occasion.
The thought makes me smile,
brings a tear.  I sigh as the slingshot

flings me back, alone in my thoughts,
Dylan in the background:
It's alright, Ma, I'm only sighing. 

The Doorbell Child

by Doris Frey
Sometimes the doorbell rings
About twenty times a day
And pixie little brown-eyed girl
Will peek around and say,

“Hi, what are you doing?”
Or, “Is your mom asleep?”
“Look, I brought you a gift,
“It’s for you to keep!”

And then she thrusts an envelope
Quickly in my hand
And waits with anxious breath
And looks in where I stand,

To see if I will like it,
Then tells me what it’s for.
I  ‘Oooh and aaah” and feign delight
And ask her in the door.

Sometimes she only stays a bit,
Inspecting my front room,
But more often so, she’s like a flower
Just waiting chance to bloom.

And if we let her stay and talk
Just visit for a while
More often yes, than not, 
She’s bound to bring a smile.

For babies none have we
To brighten up our days
And pixie little brown-eyed girl
Has very charming ways.

But now that school has started
The doorbell’s very still,
And waits all day for 3 PM
Then ring it?  Yes, she will.

Queen Anne's Lace

by Richard Shaw
Queen Anne's lace shimmered in a morning breeze
		As far as my eyes could see 
	Pulling one from the ground
		I explored its delicate design
	Bringing it to my nose
		I inhaled a summer's fragrance 

	Standing my back to a gentle summer's breath
		I watched the lace bow to the will of the sun
	Removing my backpack, I settled in a meadow
		I felt the presence of nature's beauty
	For just a few moments in the sun
		I came alive in a moment captured. 

From the Bridge

by Jennifer Thiermann
crocodile viewing
the shorebird
takes a step back


by Maureen A. Geary
Barefoot on the sandy seashore
combing through remains of the waves
Scalloped shell empty of its core
barefoot on the sandy seashore
Uprooted from the ocean floor
now burrows into mini caves
Barefoot on the sandy seashore
combing through remains of the waves

Pinned in Place

by Marcia Pradzinski
Sometimes I wish I were still out on the front stoop
with my friends, the house’s A-frame pointing us
to the stars while we sip from pink cans of Tab 
that shoot us into effervescent dreams – our hands
moist from the cans bleeding summer sweat.

We count fireflies dotting the brick three-flats 
across the street, pretend they flash light 
on the lives inside. Our hearts race with revving 
motors that purple the air with heady fumes.

We gossip about kissing in the schoolyard at night, 
lipstick shades, mascara, and stilettos. We stage-
whisper about boys so our mothers won’t hear. 
We want to fly wild into the drag-racing night. 

(Previously published in Olentangy Review, Fall 2016)


by Tom Moran
When you walk in the country,
she further confided to me,
you may chance to meet with
substantial shadows on the road.

Life is a race with nightmares.

The dawn is gray here,
she went on to tell me.

It was always like this.
We don't know whom to accuse.
I want what I paid for!

I add one further word to you,
a question rather-
Does water flow in your prayers too?

Hospice is a train station.

I am writing to you from the end of the world,
you must realize this.
Trees often tremble.

There is no choir.

Gardening Sketch

by Loren Zee
Tomatoes, squashes,and sweet basil
Chives and sages always coming back 
Breathing in the lavender infused air
Birds singing happiest melodies 
Wind chimes humming lightest tunes 
Rain drops flying off green leaves 
Right in front of the morning sun
Drawing a crystal curtain shimmering 
For just a blinking second 
What a dreamy moment under the bluest sky
I sowed the sweetest hope for the coming time 

Chief Mourner

by Beth Staas
Grown daughters on the left, sons on the right,
the room smothered in roses and lament.
I think about the past and its wonders –  
of acts that unbuckled me from myself,
moments in the drizzling rain, holding hands,
exploring the mysteries of love, of birth.

The time that remains has another dimension,
not to savor a gain but survey what remains, 
to take that Paris flight long overdue,
sashay the hotel with a whoosh and a swish
and eye the concierge with a sneer.
I will learn to drink Scotch, eat raw oysters and snails,
and test drive a Jaguar, Mercedes and Porsche.

Dressed like a gypsy, I’ll dance to the jangle of beads
and shout incantations to the moon,
unpack old sketches, hurling magenta and puce
to make them bleed with delight,
then buy a horse and ride naked,
my hair astride the wind. 

Getting old is not for sissies
when dying is yet to come.

(First place, published in Ink to Paper 2016,
Indiana State Poetry anthology)


by Myron L. Stokes
When he throws back a few,
and a few, and a few more,
he drinks love away.
His anger is the weight of the ocean,
thrashing, battering, directionless.
But he doesn’t drown.
The frenetic merry-go-round of his life 
revolves and revolves on the rusty motor of hope. 
The music stopped seasons ago 
and doesn’t know how to come back. 
He’s an old rotten tooth, 
stubborn, discolored, useless, 
filled with boundless torment
but hanging on.
His noxious secrets peel from his skin, 
bleed down the clogged drain 
of disgrace and unforgiveness.
And he throws back a few,
and a few and a few more.

Gene - My Brave Brother

by Michael Talaga
I have got a brave older brother named Gene
Whose sins are washed away and now made clean
By the Lord God Almighty whom no eye has ever seen
My brother Gene is quite a trooper
Everything he does is super-duper
For one thing, he is a diabetic
But his life could never be pathetic
Gene has also been stricken with cancer of the bladder
With love and guidance from the Maker, he can climb the ladder
To reach his highest goals in life
And he shall be relieved from stress and strife
My brave brother will “NIP IT IN THE BUD” like Barney Fife!*
He never shows apathy - only his truest feelings
Therefore, my brother shall be blessed with the Lord’s healings
Gene is generally a good-natured human being
Energetic, talkative, and very jolly
He and I always went bowling and sight-seeing
Gene smiled when I sang “He ain’t heavy - he’s my brother"
By the Hollies
This older sibling of mine will be back up on his feet
I pray to Christ Jesus who can make sour things very sweet

* Barney Fife was the deputy of the fictional town
Mayberry on “The Andy Griffith Show” played by
Don Knotts from 1960 to 1965.


by Arthur Voellinger
Persons licking
their fingers

After filling
their face

Ignore how
using napkins

Contributes to
social grace

From Beyond

by Alan Harris
Floral gatherings
are here tagged
with your sympathetic
my hastification
toward the flimsy
hand of freedom
that lifts me
into the underheights.

You may freely glorify
or scorn my memory
now that I have reached
below the neath
and behind the horizon
of hurry.
Burn and urn me
if you will,
but I am far too far
beyond the mold
for any engraved
fanciness to hold.

But let the children
chant their games,
the clouds glide
freely by,
the giant world
pulse free breaths,
for I blend only
back into a whole being
from my little island
of dinky doom.

Be, merely be here with me
as my brief obituation
slides through the air
like a telegram of smiles.

(From Inward in Words)

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