Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
June 2013
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Poems on this Page:

Baby Daddy

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Everyday you brag about cheating death
Out in these streets
But I think you are really cheating life
Because you can't stand on your own two feet
You are able bodied and strong
But you lie in the bed and smoke blunts
All day long.
You plant your seed in women
And then you run to the penitentiary
You wear Jordan's and the finest linen
You raise your voice to me
But you won't help raise your child
You blame your mother
You blame me
For your antics
You put your hands on me causing me
To run away frantic....
I cry out to God
I cry out to your father
He says go on with your life
My son is just making it harder
I kick you out and you stay gone
For awhile...
Something in my heart misses you
I let you back in to see if you've changed
but that's a pile ---
Some people say that I deserve everything that I
get because I knew what you were when I
found you--
But this city has a small pond and all that
seems to surround you --
are men bragging about how they've
cheated death on these streets,
Men who cannot even stand up on their own
two feet,
Men who impregnate women,
Men who wear Jordan's and the finest linen.
Men who ain't worth the salt in spit...
And to all you folks out there who say
I deserve what I get--
You can all keep it moving in another direction...

Whispering People

by Christine Cianciosi
Hearing voices
all around– 
hands over my ears
I still hear their sounds.

You do see them
yet do not know–
these are orbs
lights overflow.

Ghosts or spirits–
whatever you call
walk up and down
any hall.

When you are still
ears begin to ring–
tune deep within, 
hear spirits sing.

When they speak 
within the dark
follow their light–
help them make their mark.

Whispering people
so very near–
when you become clear
there is no fear.

Bird Story

by John Pawlik
It was as if
He didn't exist
Without color or shape
And past lost along the way
As he watched in a distant window
The canary in a cage
He felt himself leap
From side to side
He became the bird
And more than the bird
He became more than the bird
Because he understood
Without word
More than the bird itself
What it wanted
More than food
Than water
More than sun
On the yellow feathers
Of its wing

Self Portrait

by David McKenna
Self portrait by David McKenna


by Doris Frey
Along the sea I walked one day
To mind my thoughts and store away
Some of the conflicts
I'd found in recent days.
I stopped and built a castle
Out of dreams and sand.
A rambling mansion it seemed
To rise beneath my hand.
The tide at low ebb brought the sea
In little waves, quietly,
That lapped the shore and washed the stones
And tickled my toes.
And the little tickle traveled up my legs
And on, until, in a smile it ended
Somewhere in the back of my head
Behind a hurt already mended.
I looked for starfish and fancy shells
And traced the ripples in the sand.
I walked sometimes in the water, far out,
Knee-deep, and sometimes on the land.
But, I mused, it must be so
That when the tide comes in
This short sandy beach
From sea to cliff would no longer reach.
And the shoreline would be high
On the rocks with the sea
Beating an erratic rhythm
Splashing great waves over me.
So glad am I for now at least
My castle still stands on a low tide's beach.

assisted living

by Steven Kappes
sitting on the porch
of the assisted living facility
after having spent an hour
playing my mandolin
and singing songs
trying to entertain
a handful of residents
I rock in a chair
waiting for my ride
to take me back home
and wonder how it would feel
to be living in such a place
not a prisoner
nor a patient exactly
free to leave
with nowhere to go
trapped by disease or age
jail without bars
rocking   rocking

Candles Gazing In Tranquillity

by Irfanulla Shariff
Oh! Those candles are gazing in tranquillity
This is the moment of true geniality
I was told by that charming sparkling light
Generosity of this ignited excited night
Gathering the magnitude of surpassing sincerity
Leading the surroundings to indulge in hospitality
Setting the mood to blissfulness and its kind
These glorious states of serene mind
Sweet music and the whispering voice
Motivating the wanderers of no choice
Once a dinky empty space
Today a fulfillment of grace
The lighted delighted folks spoke with vitality
Let us with passion fully embrace
The thought of absolute totality
Gleaming faces hand in hand
Marching towards the universality
A mighty team of genuine versatility
Candles gently rested with solace
At last! Their dreams became the reality

Her Chagrin

by Bonnie Manion
A bus went from their new home, La Fayette
Assisted Living Apartments, to a municipal 
swimming pool.  She said, I think the bus 
stopped going there.  What she meant was,  
I forgot how to swim.

Eyes flooded with feeling, she insisted, I can't 
go for a walk in these halls!  It's not the same as 
breathing fresh air, seeing the change of seasons.

Dad? He doesn't understand, he was never active.
I walked three miles a day, I was independent.  I
looked out for our health.  See what he eats now!
There's nothing for me to do here, she threw down.

They won't let me use the laundry.  It's off limits!  
I can't do any cooking, she complained testily.
It's all provided.  But too much and too rich.	
Do you call that healthy eating?  she demanded.

Lashing out, she accused, People come here to die!
There's nothing productive in my life anymore.
I can't even put in my own eye drops, she mourned.
They barge in!  Insist on doing it for me.

This may look like a nice place, she said ominously,
but I don't want you to think I'm happy here.
In a tremulous voice came her last grim reproach,
They're just stretching out the dying.

Our debts to vets

by Mark Hudson
Memorial Day 2013
Rob and Berni Bland are hardly bland,
the married couple defends our land.
The army couple is married with offspring,
they met and Rob offered Berni a ring.
They've been all over the world, yet apart,
neither knows when the other will depart.
Yet their marriage works and their kids cope,
married, they didn't even need to elope.
Barret  was eight years old during 9/11,
since then, he fought, and is now in heaven.
Tristan was eleven when flames hit the Pentagon,
He fought the enemy and was killed by a bomb.
Zack was 9 when Flight 93 crashed,
He was in a helicopter crash and passed.
A military man writes an editorial,
expressing his opinions on this memorial.
He states, "It's time we reinstated the draft,"
Does it make sense, or is the man daft?
It's easy to turn a deaf ear to the killing,
We all want peace, is anyone willing?
It's easy to not care if you know no one serving,
but when your loved ones are next, it's unnerving.
A 96-year-old World War Two Vet,
hadn't received his awards just yet.
His granddaughter went, got his awards,
Now in his old age, they're all he can horde.
In America, do we honor our heroes?
Or when they come back, do we give them zero?
I'll pray for peace, war is not working,
And on the horizon, danger is lurking.
The war is something easy to ignore,
until one day it's right at your door!
Who will fight when the soldiers are dead?
Will you rely on someone else instead?
We all better start practicing karate,
otherwise, we all could be a dead body.
But above all, God is the only one remaining,
who helps any of us, that keeps life sustaining.
In the Bible it says, he wants to save all souls,
that is his wishes, it's one of his goals.
The soldiers who died, did not die in vain,
we're still on earth, feeling their pain.
On Memorial Day, we should all say a prayer,
and thank God for those who've already been there.

What we had was "Real"

by David LaRue Alexander
it happened all over
I was just lying here,
it hit me just like before.  Only
this time it was more 
As thoughts of you filled my head,
suddenly I sat up in bed, and–
it made me so mad,
to know
you had me that bad.
what else could I do?
I'd already tried
everything I knew;
and still, still
I can't stop thinking about you.
what kind of fool am I?
You've already moved on,
you're with another guy.
Yet I'm still beating myself up,
wondering what, wondering why.
Though it only lasted a fortnight,
you were the one
who did everything right.
You said you knew in your heart, 
you'd found love;
and wanted to give it a start.
But, I held steady to I wasn't ready. I mean,
how could it be? It was all just happening
way to fast for me.
Then you said
I hadn't done anything wrong;
that it was just time
for you to move along. And
I too stupid to know, merely stood there
and watched you go.
Now I understand
the pain in your eyes, and
why you wept when
we said our good-byes.
It's the same pain
my heart has felt, ever
since you left and I haven't dealt
with the fact that I love you
and want you back.
I know it was my fault,
I realized too late. Now I'm alone,
and filled with self hate.  So I sit here
counting stars in the sky, wondering why
I ever let you leave. When I know how I feel,
and I truly believe, what we had was real.


by Farouk Masud
I don't know what it is about cats I love so much.
Maybe it's their soft fur
Or funny face;
Maybe it's their melodic purr
Or incredible grace.
Maybe it's their hypnotic eyes
Or puny paws;
Maybe it's their meowing cries
Or clinging claws.
Maybe it's their small frames
Or crazy feats;
Maybe it's their wild games
Or the way each one eats.
Maybe it's their snake-like tails
Or mystic reputation;
Maybe it's their trackless trails
Or nervous walk after a castration.
I know!

It's the amazing way
They always manage to land on their feet
After flinging them every day
From the roof of my house and into the street

=( ' . '  )=      |
  | ''{}'' \       /
  |           \   /
  |  ____   |/

At the Beach

by Chris Holaves
…If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not
stand at all.
                                            Isa 7:9 (HBNRSV)

I went to lie on sand, to swim and sun         
And watch the waves foam fury, swell, and come 
To bolt the shore with boldness in full run
And make me feel life gives but leaves out some.
All too precise waves wash and beat their drum,
Erasing dreams and castles with their stroke
And force like guitarists hit chords then strum,
Creating music roaring to revoke
All other sounds but theirs to ears of hope.
Like them, waves hit and ebb to wash anew
And shape the sea's shore to a smooth, wet slope
So others can build castles for brief view.
How like the waves that rush to wash the shore,
We race to change but fail to build on more.


by Larry Turner
My body burned in public, that's my goal
As all observe that bright phenomenon.
The flames and sparks rise up, as one by one
the atoms of my body change their role,
Escape at last molecular control
And leap up to rejoin oblivion.
In realms of nature where they had begun,
and I am once again part of that whole.
Or is there some more ecofriendly way
Distributing my body share by share,
Avoiding both the bonfire and decay 
Maintaining all the effort brought to bear,
Recycling molecules built to display
Atom after atom with such care?

Seasonal Greetings

by William Marr
It's the coldest of times
it's the warmest of times
How do you do
glad to meet you
and share with you
my flu

A Matter of Truth

by Marguerite McClelland
It was a terrible day
when I found
the forks on the right
in the drawer
at my aunt's house,
in blatant disregard
of the things
my mother had taught me.

The Mermaid

by Mardelle Fortier
for Josee Chouinard
Her feet float over melting aqua ice
as music transforms her.

Like a strange fish
she swims through blue spotlights,
turning and leaping. Spangled,
bright-haired, she turns and skims,
at home only in this cloudy world
of rhythmical twilit beauty,
corals of violins shining around her,
sea-green gems below her feet.
She quickly smiles at the audience
yet darts away from them.

Higher she jumps,
legs moving like scissors,
then dives into a whirlpool of a spin.
Gold scales fall around her
tossed in the maelstrom.

Lights follow her as jellyfish, clinging,
loving her flirtatious curves,
as she soars to a climactic height,
lands on a flood tide of applause.

Lights darken
and she disappears.

from White Fire (chapbook,
Finishing Line Press)

Oaks Near Town

by Alan Harris
Black and green
under sunlight
stand these aged oaks,
seasoned wisdom in wood.

"Believe, believe!"
preaches the chapel bell
from a spire in town
to the congregated trees

which, distanced from doctrine,
stand firmly unnoticing
with their branches spread wider
and trunks planted deeper

and roots drinking more serenely
of a living water holier
than even believing can ever
believe belief capable of believing.

Clanging soon ends
and relinquishes
to the forest its
sacred silence.

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