Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
August 2001
Home Page
Poetry Competition
ISPS Member Poems
Poem Index by Poet
Poem Index by Title
Poet Bios
ISPS Member Books
Submitting Poems
About ISPS
To Join ISPS
Other Sites

Search only ISPS site
More ISPS Poems

Poems on this Page:


by Tom Roby
The moonís
the bellybutton
of the night.



by William Marr
the harbor was asleep
when the fog moved in

the strange beast in her nightmare
licked her with its wet tongue

she woke to find the world

You Know What They Say

by Bob McCarthy
"You know what they say."

"You know...them."
"Who are they?"

Have you ever been in a conversation when someone says,
"You know what they say."?

I have
many times...with many different people

who are "they"?

I've said it myself
"You know what they say."

I usually don't know who "they" are

when other people use this expression
I don't think they know who "they" are


who are "they"?



by Betty Carr

Greece lies in bins in the British Museum.
Aphrodite now graces the Louvre.
The Nike of Samothrace strides through Ann Arbor;
Campana, the Russians removed.

The Smithsonian is guarding the pots of Pueblos;
Sumer's chariot's been rolled to Iraq.
Caesar frowns down on the people of Worchester,
Contemplating attack.

The Maid of Chios softly smiles upon Boston;
The Incas are scattered through Spain.
Alexander is camped in the halls of Geneva,
And Germany hordes Troy's remains.

Stone servants of Pharoah are marching through Flanders,
While Hadmon is now Cleveland's pawn.
Carthage stands proud in the rooms of the Romans;
At the Walters, Etruria sleeps on.

An amphora of coins leans, unspent, in Toronto;
A lion of Egypt stalks Rome.
Kul Oba's gold gleams for the workers of Leningrad.
The Swedes carried Angola home.

Rameses reigns in the Oriental;
Christ's shroud belongs to Turin.
The bronzes of India gleam in the Buimet;
Antol's altar's bereft in Berlin.

Apollo casts die in the halls of the Vatican.
A Buddha now blesses the Loop.
Tut's general is sitting cross-legged at the Met,
Awaiting his rescue troop.

Crete's octopus writhes in bituminous Pittsburgh.
It's all a part of a game
That we choose to call Civilization
-- For want of a better name.


Second Prize, Viola Hayes Parsons Contest,
Crossroads, 1980.

Published in Crossroads Anthology, Vol. VI,
Ed. by Zinita Fowler. Carrolton, TX: Crossroads, 1981.


by Constance Vogel
See how they ignore that penny at their feet!
Like window blinds their eyes glance down, then up.
Not even starving people on the street
give in, preferring hat or begging cup.
A penny saved is just a walletís weight
that busy banks charge dockage to reclaim.
What once a worker prized is out of date.
Retire it! say great financial names.
The coin we once revered for Lincolnís face
is subject now to modern manís disdain,
worth little in the current market place,
outdated, obsolete, a royal pain.
Remember childhood days when dreams grew big,
from pennies saved inside a silver pig?

Steps on the Way to Eden and Beyond: The Sequel

by Wilda Morris
For Larry Turner
We who dreamed of hearing
Larry's deep voice critique our poems
next year, five years, ten,
who love to hear him read his -
so full of irony, experience and surprise -
are exiled in the present,
with but one last chance.

When Larry moves east
he will take Laurie with him.
Heidi will no longer speak
adorably in three languages.
His grown sons will toss footballs
on new streets we cannot see.
If he follows another girl
in a white dress, it won't be
on the Burlington, traveling
the route we know so well.

Will Larry find Eden in the east?
Or go beyond? Will he still seek
to hold out another half millennium
to see the equinox in Aquarius?

We know Larry as the dinghy
whose poems traveled far,
took us beyond the bar
to sights we had not known.
And will he now
become the dock, a quiet man
who stays at home?

The Road to Concepcion

by Larry Turner
Two sperm join together
like a boat with two outboard engines
outracing all the others.
Like Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in yet another Road picture
they stick together, escaping danger and distraction.
Cooperation turns to competition
only as they approach the female.

The fallopian tube, like a long twisted trumpet
with great fanfare blasts forth a single egg.

The endometrium,
jerry-built in days like a vast set
for a movie that is never made,
just as quickly falls to ruin.

Peace Is the Color Green

by Sister Meg Holden, FSP
Peace is the color green.
Images of calm appear:
refreshing fields of green;
florals of green sighted
in a flower shop window;
a woman watering
green plants
that sit
on a fire escape space;
the cool green grass
in a quiet cemetery
that blanket
the graves of ancestors.

Islands of green
caught in the urban mass
where one
searches for solace,
in a city
robbed slowly of green spaces
made ugly through
destruction, fear and greed.

Yet, peace can be found
when she is searched for.
She reveals her constant,
firm, gentle self
in each green blade of grass.


by Jean Henning
Where will all the pheasants go
when the houses stand where the
       woods used to be?
Where will the little wild flowers
bloom when the soil is churned
       by the big machines?
Will the shy raccoon find a hollow
tree when the people come with their
nosing dogs, and their cats bring down
the songbird in flight as he seeks
the tree where he used to light?

Such lovely woodlands cannot be
a town where cement streets carry
rain to the sea that never will
nourish the woodland soil or fill
the deep wells for you and me.
Where will all the pheasants go
when the houses stand where the
       woods used to be?


Published in Naper Scenes,
a book of poetry about Naperville
written by Jean Henning.

Sundown at the Old Barn

by Earl V. Fischer
For those who remember the first "Threepeat"
Sir Charles, Dans Ainge and Majerle,
KJ (Junior) and the rest
rode into town as seething sons,
the best boys in the West.

They blazed their guns (no, make that gun)
but forthwith all the fire
that even Barkley spread went poof
and sputtered out, just ire.

As Michael, Scottie, Horace,
B.J. (Bully) and the rest
displayed their skill and will and kill
and proved they were the best.

That was the tale; the Bulls were up
by two in two, and due
to sweep and 'peat in four, but then
there came a day to rue.

Sir Charles, Dans Ainge and Majerle,
KJ (Phoenix) and the rest
rode into town as seething sons,
the best ones in the West.

They all showed up and blazed their guns
at sundown--nought to be
down. Even Barkley afterward
was tickled to a tee.

Another shot would be the lot
of both the Bulls and Suns--
as each, chagrined and pleased,
reloaded all their guns.

Sir Charles, Dans Ainge and Majerle,
KJ (Phoenix) and the rest
rode back to the fray, fire-breathing Suns,
revived ones from the West.

The Big Barn shook as "MVP"
proclaimed his right to wear
the newfound crown that some folks said
all knew belonged to "Air."

Eftsoons His Airness zoomed aloft
and ne'er by mortal eyes
was seen again--and yet he would
be back to bid goodbyes.

Sir Charles, KJ, Dan Majerle,
Richard Dumas and the rest
rode back once more, old pros
at passing comeback tests.

They passed their test, and more, once more
and left the Bulls head down.
Then Ainge, back home, said "We're the best"
--that had to draw a frown;

'Twas all that Michael and the rest
would need to charge out West
and put the Phoenix Suns head down
in desert graves to rest--

For Michael, Scottie, Horace,
B.J., Paxson and the rest
displayed their skill and will and kill
and proved they were the best.

Open Window

by Colette Shelby
It was dark
This evening
When she took her walk
She enjoyed
The cool night breeze
And the sounds of the neighborhood
As everyone settled in
The smell of new mown grass
Hung in the air
Lights shown out of
Open windows
Onto the street
In front of one particular house
She stopped in her tracks
Framed in the window
Was a couple
A man and a woman
Dressed in her gown
The woman reclined in her chair
Her book on the table
Next to her
The man, on his knees
Beside her
Lay his head
On her breast
He held onto her gown
Like a child
Her hand slowly, slowly
Moved up and down
On his back
As for comfort

As she stood outside
Looking in on this picture
Of repose
She pondered
The thoughts
Of the man and woman
Were they loving?
Were they apologetic?
Were they happy? or sad?
As she continued her walk
She decided that
It was a loving gesture
And she sighed.

Dad's Henry J

by Alan Harris
Dad and we three boys
rode to the farm and back
in our 1950 Henry J
created by Kaiser-Frazer
during their waning years.

It had three speeds
more or less forward.
Reverse required expertise
lest the gearshift lever
do a free-fall all the way
over to the left.

Dad's black Henry J
had tail fins for sport,
two doors, and a sloping
back end but no back door.
Holes gradually rusted
through the floorboard.
It was a piece of junk
that somehow got loved
and joked about
and used every day.

Its oil pressure light
was never not on unless
the ignition was turned off,
but the engine forgave us
since we gave it oil every
two or three days.

Back seat sitting was
decidedly disergonomic,
but two of us sat there.
We might be snuggling
against a chain saw
or some fertilizer sacks
or old combine parts.

We three boys devised
subterfuges to achieve
riding in the front seat.
We'd hang back so as
to be the last one in.
But Dad was onto us--
if we dallied, he'd tell us
to come on and get in.

We'd spend hot hours
cutting weeds, Dad with
tractor (lucky cuss got
to sit down all day) and
we with reluctant hoes
ritually file-sharpened
each humid morning.
After a too-long day
we'd "knock off"
(Dad's phrase) and
maneuver for our seat
in the Henry J
by ever so politely
letting others go first.

Four cylinders,
sometimes only three,
pulled four weedkillers
back into town
where we lived.
A rain might splot
the windshield's dust
and be smeared around
by the one wiper
that had a blade.

Dad would never stop
at that last stop sign
before our house--
said it wasn't worth
the extra wear and tear
on the Henry J.

Out we would pile,
wary of hidden saw blades,
and the Henry J's doors
would close with a clunk
plus extra little sounds.

Dad bought our Henry J
for $200 from a local man
aptly nicknamed Bargain Art,
and after about fifteen years
of his nursing the car with oil,
makeshift parts, and patience,
it completely quit.

Then for another ten years
it stood in our farmyard,
tombstone to itself,
until Dad finally sold it
to a collector while
preparing himself
to die.

More ISPS Poems

Copyright Notice: Copyrights for all of the above poems remain with the individual authors. No work here is to be reused without permission from its author. To request permission, contact a member of the ISPS Web Committee.