Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
June 2006
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Poems on this Page:

I'm fine

by Mariana Al.Far
I gripe and whine
to all my angels
To my demons
to the Divine

The frame is empty
In my hand
The echoing witness
Of my decline

My lips unbolt
In protest
You Swine!

Strangled by a web
Of my own making

Stupified I scream
I'm fine
I'm fine
I'm fine!

The phone rings
It's me!
Silence on the line

Teardrops sweep my face
He's defeated and detached

I shall conceal myself
Behind the sunshine
Joke about my misery
Pretend I'm just fine
Then hang up to scream
You Swine
I'm fine
I'm fine
I'm fine!


by John Pawlik
In some happy moment
When you least expect
It to happen

When the sun is warm
The air cool
And nothing could go wrong

She will come . . . again
Gliding without shape
Into the summer green park
With its flowers all red and blue

And silently gaze
At what she didn't have
While small squirrels leap
From tree to tree
And robins sing

Then pass away
As yesterday
Or water
Under a wooden bridge

And you will go
On just as well
To other scenes
Not quite remembering
What it was that made you pause

That put a cloud
Between you and light . . .
A little sadness in the eyes


by Thom Schmidt
I'm disappearing

Every day
A little less of
Above the water line

Old conventions
Love and remembrances
Detach softly
Drifting, slowly away

Past Identity
Slipping below
The surface of


by James L. Corcoran
The sin of mistrust to wit let down
A drought of tools here in problem
Town making the relationship too
Routine dull aching for the truth
Down the hatch with a pull there
With reason away who cares today
The honor is collective and there
Must be a way there must be left out
In the cold unselected here a coward
Is sold to a speed now pretended


by Lauren Finaldi Gurus
On the concrete path
leading from back porch to alley,
a girl conducts experiments
on ants; discovers they can't swim
indefinitely, but can be saved
before they drown.

In the kitchen facing the backyard,
the girl's mother stands by the sink,
tears mixed in mascara,
one hand inside the cold cavern
of tonight's chicken, the other
rubbing its rubbery flesh.

If You Must

by John Wolf
If you must know always sadness
let your sadness be hidden
cold and sweet as an underground stream

but let the forest above
ring with the music of pipits and larks
and dark-eyed juncos

with kindness to strangers
and the laughter of lovers lying in moss
carving forevers in the trunks of trees

but deep in the night as the village dreams
find a grove where the earth is shallow
cup your palms in that purest of sorrows

and drink of the darkness
and the secrets it tells
of the sea

Sparrow Down

by Donna Pucciani
She flew at the car's windshield
one sunlit afternoon, the size and texture
of a pair of socks folded into itself.
She dove at the last minute.

Beneath my ribs, I feel the thud
under the chassis, soft as mittens
packing too-light snow, weightless
as tea in a china cup.

And in the rear-view mirror, I see
she has discarded herself on the road,
a lump of feathers waiting
for tires of passing cars to finish
what my white-hot muffler could not.

(The Mid-America Poetry Review, Spring 2006)

Cotton Balls

by Larry Turner
Tired from yet another day
alone with her kids,
she wanted nothing but sleep.
Yet when I asked, she went to her bedroom,
brought me a second cotton ball
from the dispenser on her dresser,
then turned out the light and left.

Alone in the dark, I sniffed the two puffs,
the fragrant, fresh one and the other
with its scent gone forever. More than that,
I knew the second was also doomed
to become scentless. If not for me, both would
still be good as new. Sick with feelings
of change, loss and guilt,
I cried out over and over,
"I want cotton! I want cotton!"

Before I knew what was happening,
she came into the room,
stuffed my mouth with cotton,
and left again. Silently,

I mourned the cotton balls in my mouth,
which like the two before them,
were losing their scent,
growing old.

Kaleidoscope of Obsessions

by Mark Hudson
I licked the pole till my tongue stuck to it,
If there's anything crazy I like to do it.
I walked around in circles, pacing,
Thinking wierd thoughts that were racing.
I dreamed about going record shopping,
I don't go to sleep and there ain't no stopping.
I drink coffee till my eyes are quite big,
I worry that one day I'll have to wear a wig.
I obsess about moving out of state,
I obsess about finishing the food on my plate.
I obsess about noise and perfect silence,
I obsess about a world riddled by violence.
I obsess about my mood and thought disorder,
I obsess about people coming over the border.
I obsess about the world coming to an end,
I obsess about things I need to amend.
I obsess about people I haven't seen in years,
I obsess about all of my childish fears.
But one thing I don't obsess about,
Is if I should take the garbage out.
And that's the garbage in my soul,
It sticks out far like rock 'n' roll.
If I don't remove the baggage soon,
It will really bring me to ruin.
This universe wasn't created only for me,
It's the one and only place to be.
So here I am and here I will remain,
I'm not obsessed nor am I insane.
I'm just one of many obsessors,
A product of many mad professors.
And on this stage, do I reserve the right,
To offer you the great insight.
Everybody's obsessed about things,
Including all that insanity brings.
For me, it's all in a kaleidoscope,
Everyone obsesses, even the Pope.
But I will not obsess anymore,
Obsessing's getting to be a chore.
I will think soundly,and even profoundly,
Each and every thought having a boundary.
The thoughts become so precise and neat,
That I end up under a hospital sheet.
The catscan on my brain reads blank,
As I suck on my oxygen tank!
And the nurses and doctors all agree,
"His dead-brain has allowed him to be free!"
And so I didn't need the help after all,
There was an emptiness like half a brick wall.
I come back to life in a shocking return,
It wasn't my time to be put in an urn.
I'll obsess about being alive instead,
I won't obsess anymore when I'm dead.
And so I breathe a breath of fresh air,
A taxicab can't be found anywhere.
I don't like obsessing, it's really depressing,
But here comes the thing that's the ultimate blessing.
I'm not the only one who thinks this way,
There's more and more people like me everyday!
So don't be afraid if you think I'm a threat,
I'm about as obsessed as they get.
But one thing that gets me to think like the rest,
Is to realize how much I really am blessed.
And if I don't realize it sooner or later,
My obsessions will get that much greater.
So in conclusion, to avoid confusion,
Having obsessions is just a delusion.


by Bonnie Manion
I remember how frightened I was
of life, of new encounters,
of who I was becoming,
what was happening within.

I remember anguish in discovering
the weakness of hungry flesh,
the faithlessness of old friends,
the flaws revealed in my parents.
I remember tears of discontent
when facing my own naked flaws,
consternation at the world's injustices,
unhappiness amid the pin-pricks of life.
I remember unexpected surges of pride
as I pushed myself to perform more boldly,
of hope as my horizons miraculously expanded,
of amusement at the absurdities noticed in all lives.
I remember when first I saw the exquisite look
of desire recognized in the face of the other,
of feeling passion overtake me,
of committing my affection to another.

Because of the Rain

by John J. Gordon
A passion was to play outdoors
Inclement weather - childhood's bane
My mother made me stay inside
Because of the rain
I invented bold excuses
Such clever schemes were all in vain
Skipping school was not permitted
Because of the rain

In time athletics caught my eye
Acquiring skills to play each game
Macho contests seldom ended
Because of the rain
Young love made its awkward entrance
I fancied my new role as swain
Often cuddling with a sweetheart
Because of the rain

Pealing bells announced our day
We vowed then danced and drank champagne
Suddenly forced to flee inside
Because of the rain
My kids made sure I was repaid
By echoing my old refrain
Headaches from their endless whining
Because of the rain

A few quick blinks the kids were gone
An era of both loss and gain
Reflective - silent afternoons
Because of the rain
Even now as black clouds gather
Uneasy thoughts are on the wane
Mostly positive memories
Because of the rain

Paris, April 8, 1794

In memory of Antoine Lavoisier
by Wilda Morris
Blood spattered
the base
of the guillotine–

A head,
respiration stopped,
brain severed

from the hand
which recorded
ideas linking

his own experiments
with those of others,
building the basics

of modern chemistry,
wrote words urging reform
of prisons and hospitals,

handed out
his own funds
to feed people

in famine and poverty,
wrote against pied forchu
tax against Jews,

proposed fire hydrants,
schools for peasants,
better street lights.

Someone's head
should roll
for this base travesty.

(First published in
The Iconoclast,
91 [2006], p. 32)

Out Alone

by John Quinn
I don't eat well since you left,
coffee in the morning,
an apple late at night,
our kitchen is a gray, damp, swamp
without you
and restaurants are out --
no one to share dessert
and the waiters all ask for you,
"where's the Mrs?"
They recognize me
but they know that half is missing.
"She let you out alone?"
When I do eat,
lunch with friends at work
or Sunday at my brother's,
your name is never present,
but your shadow never leaves.
They realize I am in a race
between the present and the past
and won't look back,
afraid to see how far behind
the past has fallen.
I am determined to begin new routines
to move beyond your memory
so I open a can of soup
and set it on the stove,
but the house murmurs silently
and the soup smells like dust

Five Senses

by Beth Staas
Take all away, but leave my sight
To see a sky electric blue
Supplanting weeks of cloudy gray,
To see the seasons flowering
From marigold to russet brown,
To walk into a forest green
Where branches arch like hands in prayer,
To gaze at nature's artistry
And look upon the world I love.

Take all away, but let me hear
The growl of thunder, splash of rain,
And birds that gossip when it's done,
The crunch of dry leaves under foot
And squirrels scolding as I go,
A baby's glee when in the bath
Or any form of melody
When sung by a familiar voice
All anthems to the land I love.

Take all away, but let me taste
A gourmet meal with flavor, form
And wines, ambrosia of the gods
Their subtlety refined to art,
Or icy lime or lemonade
So cold and tart they make teeth ache,
Or salty tears on trembling lips
Before despair is kissed away,
Connecting me to those I love.

Leave me the essence of sweet scents
Of flowers blooming season long,
Nicotine, sweet pea, lavender, rose,
And grasses wet with summer rain
Or autumn mornings chilled with fog,
Of cookies, bread or cinnamon rolls
Left cooling near the oven door,
Your fragrance saying you are near
And binds me to the home I love.

Leave me to keep my sense of touch,
To feel the textured garden loam
Cascade through fingers, cling to toes,
Caress the velvet of a flower,
Or stroke a kitten's fluffy fur,
Then touch your hand assured and warm
And feel your arms in tight embrace
Before I yield to final sleep
Becoming one with all I've loved.


by G. C. Rosenquist
You seduced me onto this thin raft
Of reed and rope tied together
Because I've always wanted to go there
Now we follow the current of the mother river
South, but upstream towards our daydreams
Stopping along the way, we stick our toes in the sand
And become new Pharaohs in this old world
Building our own pyramids to Orion out of mud and sand
We can see the future from the top if we begin climbing now
Just need to stay out of the sun at noon

So we spend our days below, treading cold tomb stone floors
Painting the white plaster walls with vast, colorful murals
Red ochre lips kissing my hard golden chest
Makes me feel black and blue
At night we come out of the caves like bats without wings
But still flying high in the dry sky

Promises to never waste the dawn
Always journey forward
Holding onto arrows already in flight
We slow but never stop them completely
It's time to bury the past and live in the present

The river hides a submerged African army
Their bubbling voices call us back to life
And we find the small raft still on the bank
Waiting to take us rapidly upstream
Where the danger of the unknown is
But we hold on as best as we can
Through white knuckle rush and low tides
Cutting coral and crocodile tears
The raft remains strong and safe

We, my African Queen, are not so lucky
You lay there now, bleeding like a virgin
Hoping for a tourniquet
As we pass the brightly jeweled villages
Waiting patiently for tourists

Life of Eyes

by Mardelle Fortier
At night, eyes are snuffed out
Like candles. They are covered,
They are left in dark.

Eyes—the part of us most
Living, most awake, most
In touch with the world;
Eyes carry us for miles away
And bring back pictures. So
Much life in such little spaces—
Eyes flicker upwards
From the wax of our cheeks.

Yet at night, while the ears
Remain alert, the skin
Still knows the air, the muscles
Know if they are in bed,
The eyes at last rest, untroubled
By fights next door, unworried
By glare of yellow and red,
Undisturbed by images of war;
They are left in peace
To rise again the next morning.

(Prairie Light Review, Spring ’06)


by Alan Harris
open you up any thursday yes dare
be sure to unzip it completely
and let all perhaps of it fall into

crows on a breeze which land in three trees
where they raucously planlessly fidgetly caw
then skittishly fly toward an east deep in maybe

kids into thursday most bicycle fast
chase whylessly after because without is
until gravel turns skin into gauze

bumble thursday all companies every one
muddy with strategy moving into moremore
hired groans crank oh hum the moneygrind

perhaps on a thursday perhaps on a now
some crow will discover what when is
turn human and lose all that zen is

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