Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
June 2011
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Poems on this Page:

The poet to her book:

by Barbara Robinette
Now it is time.  Now, go...go out into the world.
You are always mine but
I am not a roaring mama bear.  You are on your own
and you may or may not become theirs on a drizzly
white afternoon...the little lamp is lit and the TV sits black
and cold...perhaps, then, a woman looks out
the window for awhile, as my wandering cub plays
with blue sky.  And if you are loved, that same night
you will nest with a happy sigh on her shelf.
And if you are not loved, you will be tossed to the trash
or thrown in the fire or    finally   ignored   these are
the possibilities for any book's life.  But no matter.  Open up,
my Sea Leafs By Moon book of poems open....
open again and open again...your pages, a mysterious glow
from the soft twilight forest...your pages, the silence
within the foot-stompin' crowd at a football game
and be kind to whoever scans
your créme brûlée pages.  Give to any reader
at least one hug of unnameable prayer for
that long, sleepless night when the rain don't quit
and the basement floods to the top of the stairs....
and cheer loyally for their side, a most dependable sump pump.
Go.  Take the sparrow as your dog.  Let the four winds
of houseless earth blow leaves from the old, thick oak
into the shadows...into the full moon's light.

(Previously published as a laminated bookmark
in Barbara Robinette's book, Sea Leafs By Moon.
This poem won 1st place in the 2010 Poetry Thing
in Mountain Home, Arkansas.)


by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Remember back in the day
When rubbing alcohol
Cleaned the scratches
On LP's and 45's,
And placing a nickel on
A phonograph needle
Kept the party alive.
When Now-n-laters were a dime,
And playing catch-a-girl-kiss-a-girl wasn't a crime.
When you ran home after school,
To watch the Flintstones and
Gilligan's Island,
To see if those 7 crazy castaways
Would ever make it to dry land.
When slogans like 'When you give
A kid a book you give a kid a break',
And a 'Mind is a terrible thing to waste',
Were generated for kids sake.
When you dropped a piece of candy
Then picked it up and kissed it up to God,
But you didn't dare perform that ritual 
In front of your mom 'cause you knew it was odd. 
When party rap was the in thing,
And when you went to a party
A gift or a card with a dollar in it is what
You'd bring.
When colorful plastic jackets
And jelly bean sandals were all the rage,
And you got your first summer job and
$3.35 was the minimum wage.
When you wore high water pants or
And your friends made jokes about them
That were all duds,
When it was a treat to go downtown
To watch a Bruce Lee or Spike Lee flick,
And you'd eat popcorn and cotton candy
Until it made you sick.
When someone called your mama,
It was sure to cause all kinds of drama,
But the street fight ended,
Without a doubt,
When the street lights went out.
When family reunions were something
You looked forward to attending,
You got a chance to meet new relatives
And with the old ones there was time for
fence mending.
When you could ride around all Sunday
On Super transfers,
When you chased rainbows and didn't curse.
Life was a little bit simpler back then,
So that is where I prefer to take my pen,
And conjure up memories from days gone by,
In these perilous times is there any question why?

Good Stuff

by David LaRue Alexander
little guy! 
Come here, 
give this a try. 
Trust me, 
you'll like 


it feels good 
to cop a buzz!

Come on 
take a hit, 
this is really good 

How much? 
It's free! 
This time it's on me.

You don't have to buy it. 
You just need
to try it.

Hey, hey 
don't walk away. 
This stuff 
can really 
make your day!

What did you say? 
All you want 
to do is 

it's okay. 
Our recess 
is over 


by William Vollrath
     quantum climax      
              simple matter
 now reborn and
              explosively evolved
(Originally published in Prairie Light Review,
Spring 2011)

Rainy Sundays

by Mark Hudson
Last Sunday it rained without fail,
I sat in my apartment as if it were jail.
I was supposed to go to church rather early,
But I missed my ride, leaving me surly.
So I sat in my apartment and read magazines,
Looked out the window at the rain that I'd seen.
The rain finally stopped, and I felt restless,
I went to the coffee shop to feel stress less.
When I went to the cafe I saw an ad,
A garage sale was happening I felt really glad.
I walked to the garage sale not knowing,
I would walk a mile to see what was showing.
When I got there, it seemed a mirage,
No one was stationed at the empty garage.
All they had was rather bland,
I left the garage sale that I couldn't stand.
I went home with nothing in hand,
Except a bag and I still had no plans.
Fast forward to this weekend now,
Friday was great, to God do I bow.
But Saturday was another rainy day, too,
I couldn't escape I felt so blue
The rain stopped so I went shopping
A container of salsa I ended up dropping
"How embarassing" I thought to myself
They allowed me to get another from the shelf
Then I walked home and the rain was pouring
Rainy days can feel rather boring
Sunday turned out to be rather sunny
I went to find an art sale to spend money
I thought it was near St. Francis hospital
I was about to go on mission impossible
I was completely lost, so I asked someone
Who was moving things that could've weighed a ton
He directed me towards another place
I went there but couldn't find the space
I was looking for a street called Garrison
When I came across a street called Harrison
But everybody I asked had no clue
In order to find the place, what could I do?
I walked down Harrison for what seemed miles
I saw some people who didn't have smiles
I kept asking people but nobody knew
I got to the end of the avenue
I never found the art sale at all,
My back was aching, I started to crawl.
I walked back towards my destination,
And before I got to the train station
It began to rain, and I was getting wet
I ran for the train stop, without regret
My lungs were winded, I couldn't breathe
Between joggers I started to weave
I got home safely, and was covered with sweat
I took a cold shower and then redressed
And here I am on a Sunday night
The rain is about to come what a sight
Lightning is flashing across a darkened sky
And now it is time that I must say goodbye
I end this poem, because any more rain
Will surely make me go quite insane!


by Dr. Sarada Purna Sonty
Go not my friend!
Walking away from sharing I have
Strolling through plains of life
Miles gone by vast expanse
Frightened decades of time too!
Walking one way of no return
Forget not my soul searching  one!
Olive twigs and Guava crumbs 
Whispering stories of bird chirps
Rapid glances of beady eyes
Side ways running  heart trails
And those flapping thoughts
Sea shore walks and misty clouds
Broken shells stuck in wet feet
Licking salty finger nails
Chase you like flock of birds
Where are you going my love?
Leaving behind the love and lust?
Mammoth contraptions of games we play!
What a wrench it was to me
If you can't turn around now
Return not ever my beloved!!

Papa Don't Forget

by Sandra M. Bringer
Diagnosis dementia
Beloved son with power of attorney
Decides what's for the best
Put papa in a nursing home
He'll acclimate—forget the rest

Papa don't forget

Papa gets two showers a week
All meals are served on time
No more favorite rye bread
He eats the bland choice given
Papa's a nursing home resident
No chance he'll soon be leaving

Papa don't forget

Papa sits in the home's walled garden
Hears city traffic rush by
Begs staff to let him go home
His dog is alone
The CN loses all patience
Puts papa back in his room

Papa don't forget

How often do they yell at papa
When his monitor sounds door alarms
His room is not private or familiar
Of course the hallways he nightly roams
To escape the institutional gloom
To find the unalarmed door that goes home

Papa don't forget

He can't believe his son put him here
It's all some big mistake
What about my car, my garden
Are you watching my place
Does his old dog miss him
Grief covers his face

Papa don't forget.

The prodigal daughter
The family disgrace
Visits often in the walled garden
Reminds papa of the time and date
Lies his son is coming
He's just a little late.

Papa just forget


by John Pawlik
I like
Watching you think . .  .
Giving those cells of yours
In harsh light
Pondering a poem
Those of your face
Suffused with years of thinking            
Soften the glare
In bed
Naked as crabs
Outside our shells . . .
I like that it takes
Such simple keys
To open a world
Where the sky is blue
And roses
Bloom all year

Eye Contact

by Kathy Cotton
A smiling waitress clears fries
and forks, and after a while, kindly
stops stopping at our table.
We linger over ice cream in
sweaty glasses and slow sips
of ordinary words, accompanied by
the unspoken conversation of eyes.
Your comfortable gaze sees
through me, sees all of me, while
I search your deep blues like an
unabridged dictionary, turning page
after page, reading back to you
elaborate definitions for such love.
The restaurant empties, and still
we sit, fingers meeting on Formica,
your thumb absently stroking
the length of mine, eyes laughing.
At the counter where you pay the bill,
a cook in a white apron turns, asks
if we are newlyweds. Newlywed
for thirty years, you say. Now,
I leave on the table by my sofa,
a single plate, a single fork, make
space on my lap for a cat that may
listen when I talk, purr when I
softly stroke him. But never once
does the cat stare straight into
my dark brown eyes.

New Spring Resolution

by Job Conger
I've walked away from fog
and moping over dreams 
I had been hoping 
would come true
and pining for the wonder years
doomed never to have been.
Tomatoes IN!

Months before while
sad bemoaning, through dark
reveries atoning,
I saw seeds 
of summer fruit begin to live
in soup cans made of tin.
Tomatoes IN!

Windowsilly gardens warmed
with hope and sunny (yet not mine
for love nor money)
to green living beings
I'd set to life while reeling
quite bereft of friends and kin
Tomatoes IN!

Growing sprouts in 
April started penetrating
soil, imparted
hope I'd see the summer
as they bent toward the sun
while I hated the world
because I am not Errol Flynn.
Tomatoes IN!

Transplant time came just
this morning as the seedlings
went re-borning
from the sill 
to fresh-tilled soil
and loam, the home wherein their future lies.
And I too shall live anew;
shall rise above life's 
gross and dreary cacophonic din.
Tomatoes IN!

Continuous Presence

by Bakul Banerjee
Among the moist new grass
the bloodworm wriggles 
Aha, breakfast! Grabbing 
its tail, the robin drags
the worm out, but forgets
the Cooper's hawk watching. 
Down comes the hawk swooping
on the Robin's neck, piercing
with its talons and flies away 
with the Robin flapping its tail, 
in its beak the worm is wriggling.

In the continuous presence of 
death, I watch the eternal drama.

Broken Below

by David McKenna
my house   
my house   but not my home
broken down   decayed and ruined
still    I love it     it is mine    partly
for I am the undermost
I live where the rats have come
down below in two rooms
decayed and ruined
still    I love it      it is mine    partly

in my house I live with three
mother    brother    sister
bicker    nag and cry
crowded    amongst the rodents
they are our friends
they won't harm us
we do that
we need no more to 
bicker    nag and cry

bedroom with sleeping four
you with curtain for a door
one bed larger    two beds smaller
den of innocent incest
slept in ever since    never moved since
long   sad years since   first we came to live
when in morning there is singing
from the drunkards up above us
we are woken    we go running
to the bathroom    to the kitchen 

my kitchen 
holding all our goods in store
largest room in our small world 
real mother of our home 
torn linoleum    table cloth of dirty clothes 
and mismatched dishes 
broken chairs bound together 
warm old stove    heart of our bones 

pipes    why do you run
run low upon my ceiling 
hitting my head harshly?

I will 	not 	stoop!    you    RISE! 

bathroom    great beloved room 
room of easiness    room of light
room of precious isolation 
room of mirrors    of wet floors
of stench from pigs who go there!
oh    God is here and everywhere
so why is this? 

mirror look at me 
what do you see? 

Ha!      I see right through your false face!

you say I'm good    and I believe 
but why should I?
I look different 
in someone else's mirror


by Steven Kappes
passing a steel yard
back off main street
down near a gas station
sticking up from the ground
like a ragged broken tooth
an old property marker
bent bare rebar between
concrete and ground
and the letters P E RR
engraved for all eternity
in the chipped aged stone
this whole area
was once the switch yard
where four different
railroad lines converged
roundhouses throbbed
with the huffing of engines
and soot blackened men
used enormous wrenches
to work on rolling stock
my memories
of the railroads
are influenced by movies
orient express
3:10 to yuma
new york limited
or by songs
casey jones
wreck of the old 97
wabash cannonball
orange blossom special
I revel in a pang of nostalgia
for the good old days
traveling cross country
in a pullman car
and the romantic call
of the steam whistle
in the night
as it passed a solitary farm
the brakeman throwing off
chunks of ice
to kids playing
alongside the tracks
on a hot summer day
hobos seeking work
or a better life
or just different scenery
riding empty boxcars
dodging railroad bulls
now this lonely marker
useful to no one
battered by time
is the only
tangible thing left
of a mighty empire

The Tornadoes of April 2011

by Rick Sadler
Just the other day I saw on the Television news
Monstrous Demons descending from dark Avenues,
Their angry Funnel Clouds move mysteriously downd
Rotating from a Wall Cloud to tear up the ground,   
Hear them roar like a Train as the Demons speak 
We're coming down to destroy your town like a sneak,
Those spinning Vortexes known as Tornados will show
No mercy with winds at 300 miles per hour will blow,
They snake, hop, skip, and jump through the Plains
Causing destruction, havoc, death and injurious pains,
As my Mom would say, that it's your time to die
There's nothing in Heaven or Hell can hear your cry,
But if it's not your time to die no power can ever extract
You away from this life no matter what may be the act,
Even in these horrible storms comes stories of miracles
As people were being tossed around in their toy Vehicles,
To survive and tell the story of their most scary spectacles 
I could hear the sound of the Tornado sirens so very eerie
As the people run for cover from the Funnel Tail so scary,
I saw a lady Nurse rendering medical aide risking her life
Which illustrate the miracle of her passion from this strife,
Not even Tornados can destroy the helpful Human spirit
As neighbors come together to help each others benefit,
My mind reflects back to the lady Nurse that's working so
Hard to give aide looking like the Angel's mercy saying hello,
It's amazing to see people working together to rebuild their lives
When the tears that run down my jovial face to see God's Sunrise,


by Chris Holaves
He has rescued us from the power of darkness
and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
                                             Col 1:13-14   

Moments before the Northern Star
Ceases to guide the dawn of day,
I wake in sweat to ask how far
And thank God for showing the way.    

I was a sinner with no sight                                    
To lead me through the pits of hell.
In mental chains, I could not fight
Demons that drew me down the well.                      

Then You, My Savior, reached for me                      
And gave me strength to break these chains.
I saw Your light that set me free,                               
And the energy darkness drains. 

Temptations still tease to take hold,
But now I live each day in You.         
Of my redemption You foretold.
I am the seedling my faith grew.

(First published in The Greek Star)

The Red Flannel Shirt

by Marcia Pradzinski
	~after William Carlos Williams

so much depends

the red flannel 

iced in moon

beside the empty 


by Wilda Morris
What scrolls hide
in the cave of your ears,
in the dark interior
behind drums
which vibrate with words,
song, whispers, secrets
which penetrate
deeply and stay concealed
past the waters of the inner ear,
awaiting a child, perhaps,
to climb the cliffs of memory
and break the sealed jars?

(First published in Prairie
Light Review, XXXII:2,
Spring 2011, p. 9)

Jazz Singer

by Cathy Lou Pearson
Late at night
Five  nights a week,
An ordinary club
In Harlem...
A jazz singer
Touches the souls
With audio-centric notes,
Impeccable timing,
She sings
To standing room only.

They come for immersion
some to yearn
With coquetry and muse
As the lady wails.
Just an ordinary club
An extraordinary voice
She sings her jazz
In Harlem
To standing room only.

Under Currents

by John E. Slota
The fan spins its blades with no expectations -
driven by some outside agent.
Lying -
In the wake of slumber washed
Like threads woven in the tapestry of shadow s cast.
A striking Hypnotic pose.
Victims of the Flood-once still voices
Rise above the whirring drone and put forth the question
"What of This Progression?"

Like a Rose

by Syreeta L. Williams
My fragrance you shield.
My petals you peel away
from its center core.
Sweet nectar
A subtle, but gentle fragrance
like a rose
A shadow of spring
I want to know,
Will you still sing?
And desire summers love,
even if the thorns do sting!

Red Ants

by Ina Perlmuter
In the back yard
on the vibrant
green grass
of early May
we children
the prickly faded
old picnic blanket
Its once
electric pink
silky binding
so comforting
now but
fragile wisps
like grandma's
salt peppered hair
Brown bags
by lover's art
Globs of glue
crayola drawings
ziggy lines and
zillions of hearts
hold necessities
for our picnic
We children
to smother
our youthful
chortling giggles
Trying not to give
our grand surprise
on earth
is going on
exclaims Mother
seeing us
around the kitchen

Red Ants
we shout
Happy Mother's Day
Grabbing Mother's hands
we escort her
out of doors
to enjoy
a brown bag
breakfast treat
We are         
finished eating
when suddenly
jumps up
shaking hands
whisking ankles
uninvited guests
have come to join
our Mother's celebration.

Just Out of Sight

by Bonnie Manion
The fury of a storm is most fearful
while lightning and thunder crash all around,
calm skies still out of sight.
The coldest part of a dark night
is the drear hour before dawn,
daylight just out of sight.
The deepest hurt of any wound
is sorrow at my brokennesss,
healing yet beyond sight.

Skater Enchanted

by Mardelle Fortier
She skates on silver ice, in deep blue mist.
Her dress is newborn night—a mystic blue
soft silk, bright dreams...white heart by secrets kissed,
young skin gleams in pale opalescent hue.

Across the starlit ice she quickly twirls
as violins rise: blind and magic birds.
Her skirt, wild winter's breath, in triumph swirls,
her dancer's satin feet speak charmed new words.

An unseen flame turns into dark blue cloud,
she flies toward promises of flowers, crown.
She leaps. A lilac want brings song to shroud
her fears, her doubts—to bring her gently down.

Winged music lends the amethystine light.
Through haunted strings, she is moon fires of Night.

(Published in Candor, Benedictine University,
Mar. 31, 2011)

May Opening

by Alan Harris
May is most
too awfully grand
for this birdsung

All winter I worked
freeze-dried and
to the world dead
in my closed-up

until this annual
now, when May
gives me to
inhale vigor's gist
from its generous

Today I've opened
windows and doors
to let livingness in
and release husks of
flies and moths and

My breathing replete
with May's mixed balm
of aromatic everyness,
I've fallen again fully

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