Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
August 2000
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Poems on this Page:


by Tom Roby
I love that time of night
before night comes

when the last lit skies
rest blue in the elms

whose limbs are as black
as the night to come

and their silent leaves
are but a thought of green

when you are near
I love that time of night

A Dark Horse

by William Marr
from head to foot
you won't find one single hair
no particle of dust will cling
to its polished eyes

if not for the glistening nose
and the rousing mane
you probably cannot tell
that it has just run all the way
from the depth
of a night dream

Eau d'Hogs

by Steven Michael Kellogg
City living had lost its allure,
Diesel fumes, noise and traffic,
Had burned a hole in my stomach,
and shortened my life.

Something simple and clean, fresh country air,
Cardinals' songs and country roads, would mend my spirit.
I was in need of the perfect American Dream,
To the extent that Illinois could offer.

A wooded acreage in Henry County, among the salts of the earth,
Whose ordered fields and farms, seemed the answer.
So when the prairie was frozen,
Did I move to paradise?

In Spring some new neighbors moved into their shanties,
as summer began, Paradise smelled less like heaven than I imagined,
Good fertilizer, I was told, smells like money.
Yes, maybe, but other peoples' money, not mine.

With pastoral scenery, peace and quiet,
Mended spirit and healed stomach,
I sit in my living room, windows closed,
To keep out the fresh country air.

Sensing a Future

by Alan Harris
In this shaky world
where up and down
are definitely known
but gravitation still
poses big perplexities
we'd sometimes like
to shake off atoms
and take a guided
tour of the possible
and if such a ride
were available for
a dollar or a million
we'd buy a ticket
but since no booth
sells these tickets
we continue with
our work yet vaguely
sense this ride is
going to happen
sometime because
we see clearings and
glimpses especially
when mind and air
are perfectly quiet
and love is flowing
up and down and
all through our being
as if red lights were at
some railroad crossing
flashing to announce
an unseen movement
much grander than
anything stoppable

GENUS: Felis genius

by Glenna Holloway
Deploring my ignorance
of energy and matter, the physicist next door
gave me his cat, a smile, and moved away.

"Big Einstein," the creature's called.
The fourth dimension is better understood
living with a life form that claims the realm
of clocks and calendars as its own.
Matter and energy are still hard to grasp.

Each morning before we explore theories
of relativity and the feline factor,
Einie tutors me impatiently in basic science:
Black fur density absorbs all light and warmth.
Seven pounds plus four feet equals a time warp.
Nothing is squared; all is skewed.

The lesson wanders home, winding
circuitous orbits of shadow and shine,
skyward tail aquiver with equations
ending in another distinctive warp
its owner owes to lunar time
invested in arcane ritual.

Between his lives beyond, my lap
is a soft space station, limited, sometimes
not approved. I learn of minute increments
of days and nights slowly while waiting
for the sidewise approach of distance

to rub my alien shins with forgiveness.

--Published in Psychopoetica (England) July, 1996


by Margarete A. Cantrall
Early quill and scilla blue blaze
covers lawn in lake-like haze.
I am out there dark and early
bent on killing creeping Charlie.

Tulips burn and jonquils dance,
flirt with breezes, spring, romance.
I am out there bright and early
bent on killing creeping Charlie.

Yellow foxgloves house the bees.
Who is out there on her knees?
I am out there hot and early
bent on killing creeping Charlie.

Asters, mums, and cockscomb brush
paint the fall in color rush.
I am out there browned and early
bent on killing creeping Charlie.

Comes the cold, the time of exile.
Little blossoms but the leaf pile.
I am out there, dusty, early
bent on killing creeping Charlie.

Comes winter when no flower lingers
I claw the ground with frozen fingers.
I am out there bleak and early
bent on killing creeping Charlie.

My Poetic Process

by Barbara Eaton
I cleaned all day...
No time to think about
blue eyes
and a gold sweater.

But, the funniest thing,
I found myself
thinking about
your blue eyes
and your gold sweater,
and I cleaned all day.

My fingers flew...
sorting out papers
discarding old journals
and finding poems about you
in the oddest places:
jewelry box
dresser drawers
under the bed.

Your sweater was gold,
your hair was light brown,
and your eyes were deep blue.

I swept the floor,
mopped under the bed,
and organized drawers
and jewelry box.

I found myself
thinking about
a party
twenty-three years ago.
You drank Dewars.
I drank Johnnie Walker Red.

Who could have predicted
all that would happen
after that first kiss?

I piled the library books
in the bookshelf.
All about Shakespeare.
Half of a poem sticks out of

There are poems about you
in the Claude Monet
stationery box...

Would I have
hitched my star
to your starship
twenty-three years ago
if I had known
what would happen?

My life has been
one long love poem.

"Yes," I said, "Yes,"
to the blue eyes
and the gold sweater.

I followed you out to the landing
and kissed you again,
not knowing what would happen.

Would I do it all again?

I am finished cleaning.
The room is spotless.

I find one more poem
hidden under my pillow.
It is about your blue eyes
and your gold sweater.


by Larry Turner
breathes God's air, drinks God's water,
eats food created through photosynthesis from the sun's energy
by millions of farmers on four continents,
wears clothes imagined by designers in Europe and on both coasts
and actualized by underpaid workers around the world
who never look at the cover of Time Magazine and so
would not recognize his face,
stands in front of a mirror (itself no small feat of technology and commerce),
shaves using--what? blades? lather? small electric motors? though he himself
is equally ignorant of metallurgy, chemistry, and electrical engineering,
surveys the face he inherited from the chromosomes, dreams, and sweat
of his pioneer and immigrant ancestors,
and smiles in satisfaction, as well he should:
the self-made man.


by Michael Galati
I have come to believe
all stars are wishes, wishes that
somehow the phone would ring
with you on the other end
asking if I were there --
that kind of thing.

What did you ever suppose
happens to wishes made like that?
Surely they must hang from somewhere
by their thin threads,
so why not from the sky?

Do you remember that time we prayed,
and the sky turned dark enough
for us to see the whole of the Milky Way?
Oh, the wonders of things we asked for that night,
though others are calling them stars.

Egg Scrambled

by Don Cornwell
It was awful.
Can you imagine?
There's no civility anymore.
Everything is gross.
It's what you might expect
with a family name of "Dumpty?"
And when he took that fall,
he splashed all over the street.
Well, it just made me sick.
And then, calling out the soldiers
to doctor him.
You might know, it was to no avail.
All of the horses, and all of the men,
couldn't put Humpty back together again.

Alone but Never Alone

by Bob McCarthy
I sit in my apartment
on Saturday night

listening to Jewel

I had pizza for dinner

A man and woman walk past my window
carrying a laundry basket

When the cassette ends,
I'll read 3 of Philip Levine's poems

Mourning Dove

by Nancy Clark
My eyes and ears were toddler new when first
Rememberings grew in my head. May morning
Light against the curtain called me wake
To hear the morning canopied with birdsong,
Cascades of bubbling voices trebling dawn.
Then like a muted piper, smooth and low,
The cotton coo-hoo of the mourning dove
Came gently from some distant hidden place.
And I seemed called to seek it out, to leave
My bed and come outside to press my footprints
In the dewy grass and stop to touch
The fattened peony buds and fuzzy iris.
“Come see the worm,” teased Grandpa, with the hoe.
I backed up. “No.” And Grandma, from the house
Called, “Come to get your shoes on!” “No, I want
To find the little bird,” I said and tried
To sing its special sounds so Grandpa’d know.
He showed me once, the dove with rounded head
And color none, so plain I soon forgot.
And yet its random calls could make my ears
Attend against all louder straining throats.

And still it bids me hear in spite of sirens,
Speakers, horns, and bells, the constant strings
Of ringing things, insistent beckonings
That trouble time and teach me urgency.
Then comes the dove’s soft summons from afar
A simple mantra, intimate, intoning
Calm. From voice so small, the greatest call.

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