Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
June 2012
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Poems on this Page:

Waverly Hills

by Christine Cianciosi
Echoes of disembodied voices
and unanswered prayers
linger at the top
and bottom of stairs—
walls cry with history
decades of wear
lonely, moldering halls
scream with ghostly terror.

Spirit Mary
plays her ball
still treading
solarium halls.

Shadow people appear
within pale hue,
a peripheral vision fear
coming from room 502—
voices forever shout
"get out, get out!"

Souls spending years
living in the dark,
visiting breath appears
the light embarks—
for those that claim
to walk away,
play the mind game
and begin to pray.

While some spirits never
find their way—
spellbound, forever
always astray.

Dead of night light
still living inside—
stay to delight
within halls to hide,
trapped in a spirit world
side by side.


by William Vollrath
Expectant silence
nudged into awakening
distant, yet nurturing, energy
from the universal heart
consciousness manifest
with infinite possibilities
sacred life
shaped by our evolving now

Light and sound
crack the shell
faint, transforming glow
barely audible hum
nourished by thought
growing brighter and louder
the Eternal, again
gifts vibrant, new paths

(First published in
Om Times 5/15/12)

The Easter Lilies

by Chris Holaves
…Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, 
so we too might walk in newness of life.
                                                                  Rom 6:4

The snow first melts. Then come March winds with rain,
And by mid-April, lilies shyly peek
Like servant girls who wait to serve God's reign.

They crave the light above to live and seek
The hope to grow straight up and then proclaim,
"Christ rose to save the faithful and the meek!"

Fair lilies rise to celebrate His name.
With pod-shaped drums that burst with life and joy,
They herald Christ Who put our death to shame.

Their royal arms sound trumpets and deploy
White regal grace, robed innocence to sing,
"Christ conquered Death in Hades. Oh, great joy!

He broke sin's grip, and each mid-spring we bring
Good news: He is the Light, the Hope, the King!"

(First published in The Greek Star, Chicago, IL)

A flower blooms in Naperville

by Mark Hudson
A flower blooms in Naperville
or was it just a rose
maybe just a daffodil
to wave under my nose
but it won't be much longer
As a bulldozer anxiously approaches
it'll crush the daffodil
and many angry roaches.
This will be the house
that on this space is built
and each and every flower
will disconnect and wilt.
What does it matter to me?
machinery robbing greenery
destroying all the scenery
does this fill you with dread?
Have a cappuccino instead!
A tree once grew in Brooklyn
but they didn't know what it was
so they spray painted graffiti on it
To see the thing that it does!
But it just looked the same
with multi-colored branches
So the Texans came to chop it down
escorting it to their ranches.
They each chopped off a piece
as a souvenir of New York.
and one piece was so small
they used it as a champagne cork.
That bottle of champagne
was inherited by a widow
she drank the entire thing
on her way to skid row.
But she never made it that far
she bottomed out in her bathtub
in a moment of life or death
she headed out for the pub.
But on the way to the pub
She forgot to put on her clothes.
She got stopped by a senior cop
who offered her a rose.
"You shouldn't go out naked,"
the cop offered advice.
"But if you want to come back to my place,
I think that would really be nice!"
The couple later got married,
and now they're seen in the bar.
They drive drunk in the city
in a decked-out police squad car.
They never got a D.U.I,
he's an officer of the law.
He arrests people while he's drunk,
but his wife overlooks the flaw.
This is all just temporary,
They say this too shall pass.
But what good is your BMW,
the day that we run out of gas?
So you thought you'd beat the rat race,
but now you're at the bottom place.
All that work for nothing,
there's not even left a trace.
So you begin to write poetry
and keep it in your glove compartment
You end up getting discovered,
and you are able to get an apartment.
You work your way up to Leno,
and David letterman too.
Your book sells millions of copies,
and everything is brand new.
So even if a flower dies,
it can always return to the living
Anyone can succeed
what excuses are you giving?
"I'll write that book on a rainy day"
or maybe when I retire.
That day might come soon,
when your boss prepares to fire.
He fires the janitor and the C.E.O
and even the secretary too.
But when his boss fires him,
he'll have nothing to do.
Perhaps if his heart doesn't harden,
he can work at Botanical Gardens.
Flowers live about as long as bees,
but all they do is make you sneeze.

On the Loom

by Kathy Cotton
The warp of me
is Quaker gray,
a quiet woolen thread—
modest, utilitarian,
looped simply
on my frame.
But, oh, the weft,
the vibrant weft of me,
weaves in and out
those sturdy strands
with shocking shades of
peacock and cockatoo and
shimmery hummingbird.
the whisper
and shout of my life.

On Silver Pond

by jacob erin-cilberto
move the stone
i'm coming to,
might be rising to the top of the page
a patch of writing wrapped around my waist
been wasting time in this sarcophagus silence
time to ascend the pen
resurrect the dormant feelings
that resisted flow
cross laboring against the tip
i took that trip
for too many years to count
now i've been allowed to mount
perspective from a rear view mirror's point of view
and it's time to drive to the clouds
leaving the sky writing symbolism
winging its way to where the eyes meet
the poet
and the poet walks again in paths of retrospective stones
that he skips across the pubescent pond
wondering if he could tip toe through his life again
without sinking beneath his own philosophy.

Art Lesson

by Patty Dickson Pieczka
He taught me
to paint the landscape
at Hawk's Cave Trail,
to pour the wing-beat
into a bird, the rustle

into a dry hickory leaf.
His canvas exhaled
the transparent shadow
of wind and gurgled
the stream's bubbling current.

A turning oak blended
with his hair, and as he bent
his hands to dab the palette,
his knuckles became crags
in the rocky bluff.

Cottonwoods whispered
his words; his eyes sparked
from a crow's feather. Together 
we became a tangle of vines,
the flapping wing.

(Originally published in
Blue Unicorn)

Fireworks in Chicago (Part 1)

by David McKenna
Fireworks 1
fireworks 2


by John Pawlik
I have
A good friend
Who thinks
You're stupid
That any woman
Who believes
In the things you do
Is void of reason
Or simply
Just not there
I can feel him
Roll his eyes
He notes
You're rather wide
He wonders
Why I waste my time
We argue
Every day

Gillette Memories

by Bonnie Manion
Pictured on the can is
a white pile of foam
pulled to a curl-point
like whipped crème or
frozen custard, calling
to mind a sweet topping
for pies or puddings
I can almost taste.
Foam that slips deliciously
over the tongue (if whipped
crème), or slides effortlessly
over facial stubble (if shaving
cream).  Foam that smells
heavenly (if whipped crème),
or can tickle my nose, like it
once did (if shaving cream).
The label says foamy regular
on the shiny red can, nowhere
saying shaving cream, (though
I now blithely assume it is).
To be sure, after pulling off 
the smooth scarlet plastic cap
I sniff, inhaling the spicy male
perfume of shaving cream.
I'm reminded at once of
the aroma of my Dad, sixty
years ago, as I watched him
lather up with a worn brush
from an old ceramic mug.
He'd carefully pull down his
hand-razor before the mirror
creating stripes of smooth pink
skin before toweling away
those edges of leftover foam.


by Susan T. Moss
At first it was as if
you just stepped away.
Everything as always:

framed family photos
lining packed bookshelves,
teapot filled for another sip
of Earl Grey, a pink shawl
draped over the recliner,
sheet music propped
on the piano — faded melodies
still curling through the halls.

Door hinges stiffen from lack
of use; plants wilt unless watered
by someone else's hand.

Your house grows smaller
without breath and voice,
the smell of morning coffee,
daily newspaper spread
on the dining room table —

silence shattered only
by the telephone 
ringing, ringing,

my mother was there

by Marcia Pradzinski
I watch my father bone perch at the dinner table
      	he edges a table knife between the flesh and spine

lifts the body away from the skeleton 
      	and pulls up the frail ladder of bones that gave

shape and structure to the fish
      	a ladder of years separates me from my parents 

but they stream back to me in the scent of alewives
      	on the lake shore sands

where my father holds my hand
      	on long Sunday afternoon strolls

or in the heady fragrance of duck blood soup simmering
      	crusty bread baking, waiting 

for a slathering of butter spread by my mother’s knife
      	and a chat at the kitchen table

even in childbirth    my belly  splayed open
      	to deliver my son
the ghost of a memory arises 
      	I imagine the scent of chicken 

but am told "No, no cafeteria near here" by the nurse
      	as he continues to stitch and clean me

only weeks later when I visit a live poultry shop
      	where I went with my mother 

does the smell hit me and I know my mother was there
       	at the birth of her grandson with her Polish blood soup

(Won honorable mention in 2011 Jo-Anne Hirshfield Contest,
published on the Evanston Public Library website )

Hard Women

by David Bond
Sometimes in the evening I watch 
as she peyote stitches onyx beads 
to linen or perhaps embroiders a blouse
with a blue deer or just sits quietly

and I wonder if she is thinking 
of her great-grandmother Adelita,
tiny, dark, beautiful, won in a game
of Stud loco poker at fifteen.

Adelita, hair black as midnight in 
the blistered arroyos, eyes shining 
like the stack of gold escudos Jose
Maria, the Spaniard, double-wagered for her.

When Aurora sighs, it could be for her 
namesake, her grandmother, headstrong
lover, legendary seamstress, smuggler of tequila,  
deserted by a philandering husband

to die of starvation in a hut made
of gunny sacks and corn husks.
Sometimes in the evening as stars
bloom like lost gardens of yellow sage

and a distant piano softly hammers its sad
incidental notes, she speaks of her orphaned 
mother, driven across bordered bone lands 
from Coahuila, hidden under the dashboard 

niche of a cankered Ford Deluxe. She calls
them "hard women," yet finds her own
strength through their lives. She frowns 
as I write this, knowing that truth often

tastes like pastiched cliché.  My Aurora,
your past is too large for words, your heart
too tender for this gringoed poem.

(Previously published in The Cape Rock)

Take a Good Long Look

by David LaRue Alexander
Take a good long look, go ahead and stare; 
cause I'm sorry "Baby" I no longer care— anymore. 
This is the me, that you're never gonna see again. 
And no, I don't wanna be your friend. So just sit there 
and watch, as I walk across your floor, right through that door, 
and out of your life forever. And to think I came that close 
to becoming your wife. My God! What's going on in your head? 
How could you want her instead? Have you lost your mind? 
Are you crazy? Have you gone blind? Look at me! Loser! 
How could you choose her, over this? No wonder I'm pissed! 
Oh my God, she's a stupid fat cow! Tell me how, how 
could you do this to me?

My God, the last few days have all been a blur. 
I'm so embarrassed because it was her! Maybe, 
just maybe, I could have forgiven you. 
If it were Tracey, Beth, Mary, or Sue. 
But no, no who do you pick! That stupid fat, 
little ugly chick! Oh Dear God, it just makes me sick! 
You stupid idiot, I just don't understand. So you 
had an affair without a plan. You have no idea 
how to be discreet. Everyone knows where 
you go, when you meet.

Well that's it Baby, I'm done, we're through. 
I'm already looking for someone new. So— 
take a good long look; at what you gave up 
for your fat little trollop. Besides, this was never gonna work 
you low life jerk. So just crawl on back to your side of the track. 
Oh yes, and there's one more thing. I'm keeping the ring! 
Why are you smiling? Wipe that smirk off your face! 
Okay, that's it! I'm out of this place. How am I gonna 
explain this to mother, father, and all the other....

Tales from the Hoodie (for Trayvon Martin)

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
In Sanford, Florida a young life was snuffed out by the captain of a neighborhood watch,
Local authorities wouldn't make an arrest so the investigation had to be taken up a notch—
To the Fed's and now the world has been made aware of a child's last words and screams,
As he walked down the street clad in a hoodie with a bag of skittles, cell phone and tea.
The overwhelming sentiment is that he was killed simply because of the color of his skin,
Zimmerman called the police and said 'his' kind always gets away time and time again.
The Chief of Police for the Sanford, Florida police department resigned and stepped down,
He was one that definitely did not want to stand his ground!
Upon the murderers 45th day of freedom the 44th President of the United States Pres. Obama took
a moment and reflected on the situation and said 'if he had a son he'd look like Trayvon',
Television Personality Geraldo Rivera urged black and hispanic teens not to go outside
with their hoodies on.
Illinois State Representative Bobby Rush got thrown off the house floor for concealing a
hoodie under his suit in protest of the teens murder and said 'just because you wear a
hoodie it doesn't make you a hoodlum!'
Day after day, we are hearing that sentiment across the United States and it started from:
Hearing the FBI play the 911 calls from the assailant as it was amped up thousand of watts,
Thousands upon thousands have marched across the country and await
the grand jury investigation on April 11th a day that won’t soon be forgotten.
At some point George Zimmerman the killer called and left an apology on an answering machine,
The bland message sounded as if he was apologizing for not keeping his walkway clean.
In the interim, Trayvon’s parents have to cope with living without their child,
Friends and supporters search to find ways to honor him but things got wild.
After the grand jury convenes in April the world may begin to heal
Zimmerman might be brought to justice and learn that a life he has no right to steal.
Then perhaps the 'stand your ground' law will be repealed.
News Flash!!! late April Zimmerman's bond was set at $100,000, he posted bail and walked
and apologized once again,
Needless to say Trayvon Martin's parents felt Zimmerman's apology was disingenuous and said
he needs to pay for his sin.

East High School Class of '52

by Bruce Amble
Six decades after graduation
The hour glass of time
Dwindles the unfolding years
Even as memories blur
Cherished successes
With regrettable failures
All deeply embedded
In our shared lives
We are a family of classmates
Created in nurturing education
Validated by enduring friendships
We became what we are
We are what we became
Together we thrive

Nightmarish Rhyme

by Farouk Masud
Out of the light and into the night,
My body longs for its coffin;
For I'm called Maniac and Insomniac,
Taunting that will never soften.
Within me a child screams of frightening dreams
And no one seems to care;
Freddy Krueger creeps as the Sandman weeps—
Too much for me to bear!
I explained my pain to a shrink in Spain—
He thought I was mad!
"Mad you say!  I haven’t slept since May.
Just ask my dog dubbed Brad."
I became very pissed, like a snake I hissed,
Ready to bite his face;
So I left his office, cursing him a novice—
His own head he should replace!
I don't care anymore, life's a bore,
I want some real action;
After a violent fit, I must admit:
Nightmares are my attraction.

As I prepare my grave, I pray the Lord my soul to save:
"Please forgive me for I'm sick."
With a glass of champagne and a pint of Night Train,
I swallowed some arsenic.
With no kin bereft, I have nothing else left:
No children, no friends, no wife.
And now I must leave to forever dream-weave,
So ends this story and my life.

To a Son

by Marguerite McClelland
Like a published book,
you are out there, my son, 
beyond my door,

I conceived you;
I wrote the lines,
designed the scheme,
infused the theme with my meaning.
And I revised,
scratched over my illusions, 
deleted your intrusions
as you strutted across the page so self-sufficiently.
You had a way of bringing to the stage 
plots and characters I didn't have in mind. 
"Let me live my own damn life," you said. 
"make my own mistakes."
And you made your mistakes.
And I 
edited them day by day.

And then, one day, I let you go...
And here, alone in my small room, 
I'm still growing,
finding that the truth we found together, 
just a year ago,
about people being really good at heart, 
isn't always true.

There's one more thing I have to say,
	just one more thing ...
My afterthoughts,
I send them after you,
but the manuscript is gone. 
And here,
alone with my growing,
and my unfolding knowing, 
I only hope
you'll make it on your own.

So many things I failed to say, because I didn't know — 
So many things...
	So many things ...

What Is Love

by Marge Samuel
Love starts with a glance, a voice or a sense
	A feeling of need and commonality
		Growing through a lifetime of commitment
				To a much deeper relationship…

It is sharing of space and time
	And knowing yourself and each other
		It is disagreeing and compromising
			And finding fulfillment within this living…

Love is sharing of mind and body
	Uniting in exultation, joy, or empathy
		Perhaps a look that shares our souls
			Or a deeper joining that fills all needs…

Love does not possess or control
	Tis a feeling given from the heart
		By growing accepting and compromising
			But not sacrificing each others identity…

Love is a gift, not a regimentation
	Love is an acceptance of each uniqueness
		Love is a dream we forge to fruition
			Love sees the reality and still loves…

Gentleman of the Old School

by Wilda Morris
Dad polished my shoes,
cleaned my glasses 
when I was a girl,
carried my suitcase
to the bus when I went
off to college.
For decades, when I drove
home he came out 
to carry my luggage
into the house,
up the stairs.

He stands on the porch
today, shoulders stooped,
eyes heavy with apology
as I unload the car.
He wants to help me
carry things in,
but can't do it anymore.
If I say, It's OK, Dad.
I don't need help,
it will be a knife
through his already
shattered spirit.

(First published in Prairie
Light Review, XXXIV
Spring 2012, pp. 48-49)

Blue Penguin Revelry

by William Marr
-- penguin parade on Phillip Island, Australia
Exultant over their freedom
they have again spent all day in the Ocean Bar
celebrating and drinking
now pop ashore
one by one
Oblivious to all furtive eyes in the dark
they form a line on the beach
and do their routine exercises
trying strenuously to turn their unsteady steps
into graceful movements of the waves
before they reach home

The Most Beautiful: for Katya Gordeeva

by Mardelle Fortier
I dallied through ice cream
and remembered
your dance on white chilly silk.
You whirled, swirled, floated
light as evening, smooth as milk.
Then you leaped blending
fire and magic
as any good combination blends
vanilla mingling with
caramel and cream.
Yes, the song of it went on
and the violins melted into the pianos
before dissolving into memory
frozen, pure and lovely
like an excellent dream.

(Published in DuPage Valley
Review, Spring 2011)


by Alan Harris
Each path leads to another path
And that one to a third,
And on and on path leads to path
Until the way seems blurred.

The beauty of this path lies in
Its trodden permanence—
It beckons us to wear it thin
While traveling whence to hence.

This path winds gently left and right
As if ignoring straight—
Perhaps its founder had no sight
Or trod it very late.

Or did he follow waves of sound
That most folks fail to hear,
Which led him up and down and round
As far-off goals came near?

How paths begin we'll never know
(The woods will never say),
But all who have a place to go
Are thankful for The Way.

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