Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
June 2009
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Poems on this Page:

Tempestuous Delight

by John E. Slota
Mood electric and atmosphere rare
Weather, somehow you've formed a strange pair.

Fairly foreboding, no time to waste
Please decide with precipitous haste.

Wrinkled and creased the fabric of sky
Pressured by change, conditions belie.

The storm continues day into night
Nature springs tempestuous delight.


by William Vollrath
Surrounds and comforts
Hugs me closely
Its gentle kiss
Caresses the body
Calms the mind
Stills the soul
Reveals and illuminates
Extinguishes anguish
The forgotten gift

The Returning

by Patricia Gangas
How beautiful it is to have found a high school that was home,
to have stayed awhile and been enfolded in its arms,
touching the walls of its innumerable possibilities.
To have loved that garden place,
lost in its arithmetic, the curled sounds of capitals.
To have given a face to the world in the naming of things, 
to have found friends that molded the heart.

How beautiful it is to have gone away as leaf-birds
bearing our heads to the sky,
waving to each other, our last good-byes.
Then to travel out, loving the whole world,
nurturing it, as one does an old friend.
To have given love to the brilliant, instructed the ignorant,
given life to a child.
To have climbed over continents, dancing under star and moon;
to have known age in the creaking body,
sensing the hard rays of mortality, the misery of the days coming
and to stare back in silent strength.

How beautiful it is to have crossed the bridges of our days
and come upon the sea-coast of the soul; a divine geography.
To have stopped and waited, remembering so many hours, so many days,
echoing of desks, of wakened paths.
To see words written in notebooks that time cannot destroy.
And now, returning, after these many years,
to come back again, homesick for the white world of our youth,
homesick  to laugh again, to dream again of old joys and distant things,
to claim that happiness we were promised once.

Long Brown Coat

by John Pawlik
Wind moves
As it never has
The willow's leaves
The tips of whose branches
Are like fingers brushing
The surface of a still pool
Isn't there now
Someone humming
In a distance not far away
An old Celtic tune softly
About beauty young love
And home
A romantic heart
That's not yet dead
Always has this need
To flesh a void  To fill
With stars and flowers
Other symbols magical
Any empty space
Within its cloth
And you--my yet
Sensuous anonymous
Still absent any
Fact or experience
That might dispel
The myth
Of tints and shades
I've made in which
You now reside
Never take it off

My Heart Goes to Guam

by Rick Sadler
If I'd wonder my way back to Guam
I'd sit and listen to those Island Palm
They'd say that here begins America's day
I can see the lovely sunset at Tumon bay
The Ocean Waves breaking over the reefs
There on the Beach I think of my beliefs
Oh, beautiful Island of the Virgin Mary
Her foot step on the Ocean I can carry
I honor the patriotic people living there
They'll always be a part of me as I share
I'll tell you of their struggle for freedom
In the great war they'd find their wisdom
I felt the warm tropical air on my face
My view from a ridge of this mystic place
The rolling hills look so gentle and calm
Thinking is my way to go back to Guam

Play, Way Back When!

by David LaRue Alexander
Now listen grandson! Way back when,
long before electronic toys were in,
we used to have fun in a different way.
We'd actually go outside to play!

Yes, yes it's absolutely true!
No, really I'm not joshing you!
We'd play marbles, Yo Yo's, and tag.
"Simon says", and capture the flag.

"Green light, Red light," sack races, play catch, 
and even an occasional wrestling match.
Maybe a quick game of "Steal the bacon."
We sure had fun, if I'm not mistaken.
Jacks, hopscotch, and hula hoop.
Rode down the slide in a loopty loop.
Monkey bars, merry-go-rounds, and swings.
Spun tops, and lots of other things.

Hide-and-Seek, "Red Rover," and jump rope.
Now without electricity how would you cope?
Those were the days we really had fun,
and we did it all outside, under the sun!

"Gramps, why did you steal the bacon?"

They Wear the Crown

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
They wear Obama regalia
on their chests, necks, backs and crowns
Young men with hues ranging from
bright golden to mahogany brown
Some that weren't even able to vote in the '08 election
Due to prior commitments
But they show their support and echo the
World's sentiments
As they hang in doorways
Of neighborhood businesses
Thinking of more ways to earn a saw buck
Because they've run afoul of the law
And haven't had any luck
Selling CD's, DVD's and well you know--
I'm not here to judge or expose
This is just a poem, you know, it's only prose...
Anyway, they sit on stoops in the summer's sun
Talking 'bout swagger
And conquests with pants saggin'
Passing time and braggin'
At times oblivious to the world going on around them
Unable to grasp for grants for higher education or training
Because of the stipulations on the books pertaining
to people who spend time far far away from home
Okay, again, I digress, like I said this is only a poem...
But if they only took the time to find out about
Offender reentry programs
Maybe, they wouldn't contribute to the recidivism rate
Because they'd have options as to their fate
And soon they'd become model citizens and emulate
Our intelligent, courageous and outspoken head of state
But until then they hang in doorways and sit on stoops
Wearing Obama regalia
On their chests, necks, backs, and crowns

Human Fray

by Sandra M. Bringer
Oh if I were to live for just the spring
sitting in my blue chair
feeling the color gray
i should get off my tired ass
& see what the world's doing today

i sit unseen on a green sidewalk bench
a big city of humanity passes me by
parchment skinned grannies with shopping carts
fail to smile or return my faint hi's

new moms whiz by in red running shoes
pushing plastic covered strollers
travelling at such speed i ponder
can their pink babies see the street's wonder

teen boys pass beautifully tattooed & pierced
jeans hung low they strut their masculine buff
just the way the bright as sunshine girls like it
they call 'hey tuff boys we like your stuff'

tightly buttoned black suit coated men
among the bright swarm scurrying in and out
with briefcases & agendas in hand
have faces that show no doubt

i want to fit & have purpose
join the grand mix & not feel worthless
my blue chair is alone 
i'm heading home

a contemplating turtle 
hiding head & hell in my shell 
perhaps tomorrow i'll brave the day
get back my nerve & join the human fray.


by Donna Pucciani
It must be frogs.
We peer through tall grass 
edging a lake carved from sky.
Not giant crickets with busy wings
mating in the reeds, or some elaborate bird
with turquoise plumage, a tail that twitches, 
and a golden beak issuing 
the call of morning, but --

possibly toads.  
We recall high school science, 
the difference between Asian and African elephants, 
crocodiles and alligators, and now, we puzzle 
over rubbery creatures with pulsing throats, 
sans lily pads but huddled  somewhere 
in the filtered sunlight of the rushes.

Mulched paths, bridges, and blue water 
which, solid ice only months ago, 
held fishers who sat on crates waiting to catch
something silver through their own
chopped hole of hope, hold us now
in a basket of bullrushes.

We listen, seek, know only from sound
the existence of some entity,
joined by another voice a quarter-tone apart,
and then a third, this joyous trinity
shutting us out from all but song,
insisting that we part the reeds 
with inquisitive hands.  We submit.
The oracle chatters, incomprehensible. 
We circle the lake again, leaving time and space
quivering in the mouths of amphibians.

(Recently published in Ellipsis)

The Quilt

by John Quinn
A poet uses patches and pieces
of whatever is handy
    night or day
    sun or rain
    lilac's scent or death's dank stench
    a flash of flesh
    an old man's tremor
    a young man's tremble
to fashion a quilt of words
    pleasured measured treasured
    images of loves or youth
    lost or found
    moments missed by others
    where the novelist finds no story
    the essayist no cause
    the painter sees no pink or blue
only the poet
idling his day away
can savor the flavors and the shadows
of an empty barn
and draw it around himself
as a shield from the cold

Chichi Jima

(For Memorial Day)
by Mark Hudson
Back in World War Two, the Flyboys flew,
They had a dangerous mission, they knew.
It was to bomb Japan, our enemy at the time,
And many Japanese were accountable for war crimes.
The conquest of Iwo Jima was pretty well known,
But there was another one not as well shown.
Chichi Jima was an island not as big as the other,
And it brought fear to many an American mother.
Eight flyboys were shot down, captured there,
Their planes were shot down in the air.
George Bush Sr. was one of the ones shot down,
He was the one to escape, and didn't drown.
Another eight got captured as prisoners of war,
Their captors were rotten to the core.
General Tachibana beat his troops with his hands,
And treated his men like servants at his command.
The pilots from America were Grady York and Jimmy Dye,
You wonder why they had to die.
Glenn Frazier and Warren Earl Vaughn,
These were some of the people, on the island they were on.
These Japanese soldiers, hardened by the war
Executed the flyboys with a myriad of gore
It was the least known story about World War Two
And the mothers back home didn't know what to do.
The Japanese did what their emperor said was to be done
And you couldn't argue with a submachine gun.
Major Matoba was the worst of the gang,
They'd cut off their heads or watch them hang.
The war began to make them animals,
They began to behave like crazy cannibals.
As they killed the prisoners of war with hate,
It was on their very bodies that they ate.
Major Matoba ordered their livers cooked for cuisine,
They ate the prisoner's livers, which was obscene.
George Bush was the only one to escape,
China was victim to slaughter and rape.
There was only one prisoner who survived from the island,
And he probably would've rather had to die then.
The war was ended by setting Japan ablaze,
And fire reigned on them in a horrific haze.
Japan was bombed back to the stone age,
Americans bombed the Japanese with a war they waged.
No one was righteous in this whole war,
More people died than ever before.
One of the flyboys who died on Chichi Jima was pretty good,
He read his Bible and obeyed his mom like he could.
But he was still slaughtered by the Japanese samurais,
The Bible didn't change the fact that he had to die.
The Americans were backed by their Judeo-Christian God,
Which if anything, probably sounds odd.
Millions of innocent civilians died,
But Germany and Japan had to be fried.
Hitler had to be stopped, and so did Japan,
And America wasn't so perfect, in the free land.
The reason they dropped the atom bomb was otherwise,
They would've had to invade Japan as spies.
They might've prevented land casualties galore,
But there's nothing to glorify about war.
They killed old men and children alike,
So did Hitler and the Third Reich.
It was an amazing time in history,
And what's next remains a mystery.
September 11th came as a shock,
But there's no turning back the clock.
Man seems to be a beast no matter what,
His prehistoric nature causes him to cut.
The book I read was powerful and sad,
And in a way, it made me mad.
It was so intense, it was hard to sleep,
Thinking of all the caves so deep.
But on this Memorial day, it's veterans I thank,
Their job was hard, the bodies stank.
They sacrificied their lives for freedoms I take for granted,
And on their graves, new flowers are planted.
I look forward to a day of no more war,
But it's farther away than ever before.
Only when Christ returns will there be peace,
And then all the wars will cease.
Till then, I'll appreciate the sacrifices made,
And the soldiers in their graves, with bodies laid.
We'll never truly appreciate what they've been through,
They don't want to talk about it, it's true.
Memorial day is over, with each barbecue,
But war is hardly even through.
So on this note, I hope to end my poem,
Let's bring the soldiers from Afghanistan home!

Beach Lovers

by David McKenna
(Tapestry Poem)

blue sky
                           lie next to me
wrap me in your arms
                           let us be one 

                           caress me with your warm hands 
soak into me 
                           heat me to my core 

brown    restless water 
                           touch my calf    my thigh 
lap ceaselessly upon me
                           lick me with your grainy tongue
wash me with your waves 
                           break into my soul 
take me down 

The Wall You Built

by Bonnie Manion
       inspired by a poem called "The Wall," author unknown

Rising before dawn, you
leave me alone in bed.  Again.
Where is my friend?
I feel so tired, so sad, pushing
against your invisible wall.
All day you sit in the dark,
alone in your cluttered den,
job-searching the web again.
So far, a fruitless search,
with bitterness cursed.
I dress and leave for work.  When
I return you silence my hopes
with your angry shouts.  Your pain,
your moody nagging complaints,
induce not my sympathy now,
but doubts.  You insult my work,
criticize my thinking and the child
you won't discipline.  I set down
the groceries, my leather briefcase,
my unacceptable success.  You set
your jaw, swagger out the door, hop
on your bike, driving me away.
Why is your eye so cold, your words
bereft of the old affection, the wall
between us becoming a fortification,
a wedge like the thick knit of your brow,
your jealousy edged with a perpetual scowl?
My life feels under siege, without joy. You
don't want to help, don't wish me well,
only find delight in my difficulties.
Can't you even speak to me kindly?
You say that's who you are, can't change.
Well, I can't scale your wall anymore.

Her Kiss Is No Ordinary Kiss

by Farouk Masud
We met last year at Navy Pier,
I love to reminisce;
She worked a stand that would boldly demand:
$5 for a kiss!
I thought:  What's this?  Losers' oasis?
Five dollars for cheap bliss?
I made my way to that busy bay
To talk to this little miss--
To find the truth at this kissing booth,
If these rumors I'll dismiss--
Fantastic rumors that spread like tumors--
How so ridiculous!
She's such a beauty and a cutie!--
Ah!  I have the prognosis:
She's cast a spell over all that dwell--
They're under her hypnosis;
I must help these guys open their eyes--
I'll undo this psychosis.
Before I'd infer, I said to her:
"What's so great about your kiss?"
"Please, don't be shy, just give me a try,"
She whispered with a hiss.
I lost my nerve and faith and verve,
For those words were infamous.
I fixed my hair then said a prayer
before I kissed the miss:
"Please, help me God through this dire and odd,
Unbelievable crisis."
I puckered up like a love-sick pup
And kissed her like a novice:
The dark waves swirled and twirled and whirled
Ever so ominous;
I heard death's bell toll, casting my soul
Right into the abyss;
Were my prayers for naught?  I pondered and thought--
I snapped out:  "Blasphemous!"
"There, you see.  No effect on me.
It's lame and ludicrous."
She went insane and said with disdain:
"Then try another kiss!"
I killed my cool, for like a fool,
I paid more lip service:  
Time froze dead-still as if mad and ill,
Everything went amiss;
I ravished her lips and groped her hips--
I went delirious;
That was the charm, I thought with alarm,
For it felt so amorous.
I can't recover; I'm now a lover 
Of her dark, dangerous kiss;
I'm under her trance (by luck or by chance)--
I begged for more practice;
She screamed and scowled then laughed and howled:
"You're under my hypnosis!"
Standing glorified, she said with pride:
"Now, how do you like my kiss?"
Crazed in the head, I gleefully said:
"It's pure and utter bliss!"
My heart was ablaze as I poured her praise:
"It's no ordinary kiss."
"Now, I must leave.  I'll return on the eve
Of next year's summer solstice."
She said her goodbyes then leapt for the skies 
Like Satan's apprentice.
Shedding a tear, I stood by the pier,
For she left without notice.
So, all the night-tide, I walk the lakeside, 
Waiting for that lovely miss;
She'll return to me more passionately,
If there truly is justice.
For now, I've the moon, and nightly I croon:
"Please, kiss me.  Kiss me!  Kiss!"

Contrast in Hard and Soft

by Ina Perlmuter
Beyond the chain link softly
Creamy violet hydrangeas 
Rustle as tushy soft paws work 
Their way among their stems
Searching for a prize


by Wilda Morris
I squeezed the loaf of bread tighter,
as tears burned a path down my
dirty cheeks. Here I was,
in the middle of the block,
on the right side of the street,
exactly where my house should be.
But it was not.  What evil magic
had changed the world?
Where was my home, with Grandmother
waiting for bread?  My head
turned to the ground.  I shrank,
my wails now larger than I.
Hearing something, I looked
through the fog of tears
and there you were.
You - the wolf who ate
Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother,
Peter, Peter who kept his wife
in a pumpkin shell, the witch
who tried to push Hansel in the oven.
I'd known who you were since I was four!
If I peeked between lilac bushes
and saw you in your garden, I would run.
Fridays, I saw taxi drivers bring you home,
help you stagger to the door.
I heard your wife crying in the night,
your son's shrieks, saw welts
and bruises next day - and his eyes.
And here you were.
You knelt, and with a tender voice
I'd never heard you use,
asked, What's the matter, Billye?
How could you understand the words
I sputtered, saying I was lost?
And yet you did.  And with one hand
lightly on my shoulder, the other
pointing, said, Look,
you can see your house from here.
I bolted across the weedy field,
still clutching the bread,
not saying thank you.

(First published in Prairie Light Review)

Toxic Tokens

by Bakul Banerjee
Toxic tokens of heartbreaks 
hung from the neck brace
made of gold and glitter. 
It grew heavy by the moment,
by the year, to a dead weight.

I begged the jailer to unlock 
the clasp. He smirked. 
"Don't you dare to take off! 
This badge of yours will 
blow up on you if you try."

In fall, I walked slippery ways
on golden leaves, door to door. 
"Help!  Please take this off me."
I said. Open doors shut softly,
"Sorry, we wish not to interfere."

In winter, I treaded snowy streets
door to door. "Help me", I said.
"Help, please take this off me."
Open doors closed with a bang, 
"Go away, don't bother me."

Then, this summer 
under the blue moon,
I tug at the stupid brace
with all my strength.
The clasp clicks open.

I smash it on the asphalt,
but there was no bang.
That black ugly thing
gave off only a whisper of 
          I stomp away.

Free Style

by Stanley Victor Paskavich
We're all pieces of the same ever changing puzzle,
some connected for mere seconds some connected for life.
Some connected through knowledge, some through belief,
some connected though wisdom, 
some though Love, and some connected with no explanation at all. 
Yet as spiritual beings having a human experience,
we're all here for the sensations this reality or illusion has to offer.
The best anyone can hope for is the right to be able to Live, Learn, Love then Leave. 
After that reap the benefits of their own chosen existence in the hereafter
by virtue of simply believing in what they believe. 
As for here It took me a while but this progression helped me with my life. 
I like myself, I Love myself, I am myself.

Promise of an Eagle, to a Friend

by Jason Sturner
for Rita Hartje
Sin & Confession
You've asked me to speak of eagles. Of diurnal flight over moonlit valleys. I was to offer you the brazen talon of its faith, hope, and love. As a song. But I lied when I said I could spring this bird from my heart willingly. I betrayed myself into thinking I was the keeper of its valor. I am not. In truth, it flies through me but doesn't see me. A ghost of old tears reflects from its eyes. And though my soul is wretched and my ego has lied, I long for your unconditional love. In dreams... So many nights I've fallen asleep in your heart! Awoken in the world your words have built. I can't kiss your angelic face, but I hear its soft music. It sings that our distance is illusion. It's not real.
You've asked me to speak of eagles. Of nocturnal flight over sunlit peaks. To take your hand, guide you across clouds, and illustrate the strength of God. I have. In you. With faith, hope, and love under wing, you have flown softly, quietly through me. The embers of your saintly energy raining down upon my soul. I weep. Because you, my friend, are the eagle. You see me. (From his chapbook Selected Poems 2004-2007)

Cottonwoods Cheer

by Robert Coté
When the wind blows the cottonwoods clap applause
In these airy June days
they, perhaps are applauding 
they will soon release their snowy seeds 
Which in some years entertains imaginative children 
with a surreal snowstorm out of season
To the boy they take as not paying attention
peering out the windows
It is the signal
to schools last days and the beginning of summer
And I will stop sweeping the driveway 
where it collects into cotton balls
pausing long enough to remember

Family Tree

by Deborah Vitello
You were the trunk of our Family Tree
Strong and impervious to the nth degree
Supporting us, so we felt safe and flourished
Because of you, we all were nourished
Sheltering us from the storms of life
Through times of happiness and strife
No matter what, you stood your ground
We thought you'd always be around
Your children were not afraid to branch out
Testing their wings with little doubt
I kept the nest as best I could
I knew they never understood
That marriage is a thing that grows
Hard work from both, heaven knows
You were their hero, as it should be
I'm sure if I asked, they'd all agree
When you were cut down so soon
On that fateful day in June
We all lost faith in God above
Is it any wonder, we feel such pain 
When Father's Day comes around again?

The Fan Above My Bed

by Judith Tullis
The fan above my bed
whirrs softly in the dark
launching my dreams
like loopy Frisbees
that spin aloft and
land in distant gyres
forever unfulfilled.

Between Heaven and Earth

by William Marr
a falling apple
suddenly stops midair
unsure of whether to continue its course
or to return to the treetop
while the Kansas State Board of Education 
argues over the weighty question 
of gravity


by Susan T. Moss
When fall leaves crunch underfoot
on walks stretching
into snow covering every stone
and bent remains of summer
and we slip into winter dark,

it is good to be where
people know our name,
and familiar faces reflect
a smile calling us back to ourselves.

We look again for greetings
in spring's warmer days
when yellow finches
wing their way home
toward early blooms pushing
past icy memories.

New places do hold their own fascination
but not for long.  Soon echoes
of old friends' voices
whisper coffee chats or favorite books

and we beg a hello from passing strangers
to bring the rush of recognition
that we are not alone.

To the Owl

by Mardelle Fortier
The owl watches with large eyes
like a mosaic of moonflowers.
The wisdom of the stars
sits at his feet, and he knows
exactly when to fly. Through
shadows he swoops
as much a part of night as trees
or silent ponds or dark storms.
The owl does not have to have
an individual name
to know he is important.
He lands, swiftly as moonlight.

(Published in Library Notes,
Lisle IL Library, May '09;
1st prize winner in the
Library '09 contest)

Weather Forecast

by Alan Harris
Plan on being
warmer tomorrow
with a 60 percent
chance of light
karma mixed
with opportunity.

No storms
are in sight
until Friday
when a wave
of retribution
sweeps in
from the West
to spread doubts
and briefly intense

Your historical high
for this date
has been forgotten
and let's not even
think about your low.

Tune in tomorrow,
way in,
and remember,
if you don't have
any weather,
you are somewhere

More ISPS Poems

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