Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
August 2002
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Poems on this Page:

Turning into Memory

by Mardelle Fortier
and the dusk
        turning one's house into memory
and the chill
        changing air into silk and gleams
and the lights
        encrusting night with great diamonds
and pure stars
        transforming the day into dreams

and a bird
        asleep like a princess high-towered
and the mist
        sculpting white flights over woes
and the moon
        wandering free as satin till dawn
and silence
        opening round the skin like a rose

Pennsylvania backlog

by Jeff Hubbard
Grip your face close to
the rain barrel...
forget about the mad jays.
a way to get those near
momentary yearns.
Till it all cracks up,
six string strumming
on a granite trail
back in the rain.
could happen
should happen.
Lightening plays the soul foolish.
What fantasies will turn
in a garden without the green.


by Constance Vogel
The wedding gown is meant to be immortal
kept in a storage box with plastic portal
where rows of bugle beads remain eye-bright,
elegant French lace unspoiled, white
as when it glided down the chapel aisle
upon the flawless bride
who hid inside
her veil of tulle the most triumphant smile.

If called passe by future generations
what unknown fate awaits this sad creation?
Perhaps a costume morgue or pile of clutter
from a theater that has been shuttered,
cut up and made into an evening purse,
a trim for handmade lingerie,
drapes for a storefront cafe,
shirred into an evening skirt, or worse--

perhaps no future for it lies ahead,
but burial beneath a king-size bed
where every day begins as black as night
and grizzled ghosts of dust bunnies unite
to fabricate a quilt. What paradox!
The box protects the gown,
the dust-like eider down
protects the sealed up airtight cardboard box.

If descendants call the wedding day
a quaint old custom that should go the way
of kidnap, bartered brides and bundling boards--
better things to put your money toward--
will the vintage dresses side by side
rise into the stratosphere
and with a great celestial cheer
reunite forever with their brides?

(Forthcoming in River Oak Review)


by Tom Roby
When the disciples gathered
to hear Gautama's mountaintop
sermon on how to win

The Way

he simply raised
a solitary sunflower
beginning to wilt
in noonday heat.

What on earth did he mean by that?

We bickered about it.

Only Kasyapa
gave his quiet smile.

but why the smile?
Did he see
what the seedy eyes
in her blossom round face
already knew of the wilting cycle?
Or whether her petals
had gotten an earful?
Or that the sunflower
was a stand-in
for the obligatory lotus?
Or because he knew
in time
that the mountain and the sun
are as temporal
as a sepal?
Or that he understood
that he didn't understand?


was it to return
the smile
of the sunflower?

Father's Day

by Bob McCarthy
today is Father's Day
a day to celebrate our fathers

my Father is very selfless
He has always worked very hard

my Father is great
He's been very good to me

I can never repay Him

Entering Another Stage

by Barbara Lauderdale Hearn
Mom sits in the old chair,
Now she has gray hair.
She can beat you in a game of chess,
But her hair's a mess.
In years gone by,
Our precious time used to fly.
Our taxi driver around town,
Her hair then was brown.
Mom was happy and upbeat,
And would always surprise us with a treat.
Vibrant and sharp in every way,
She constantly had something positive to say.
Now Mom's entered another stage,
It's called old age.
Her mind is not what it used to be,
That's plain to see.
Mom has always been my best friend,
And she will be until the very end.

Cigarette Smoke

by William Marr
when the fingers are burnt
another corpse is crowded
into the ashtray

destined to be lit, puffed
and put out
it still gasps
for the last breath

Nothing Changes

by Pat Petros
We read the much detailed reports
        of how the business world resorts
to scams--dishonest deeds and such.
        Of honest men we don't hear much.
We hear about the few whose greed
        wins over all the greater need
of share holders and guiltless traders
        who get cut down by ruthless raiders.

He named it many years ago.
        You'd think that we would learn, and grow,
but pride and greed which we still see
        you'll find in Matthew twenty-three.

Names: Jewish Museum, Prague

by Sister Meg Holden, FSP
Names on the walls:
dates of birth,
dates of death.
Some young,
some old.
The chronology
goes on and on,
in room after room.
Czech Jews
for their heritage.

The names,
so small,
in red and black,
the colors of blood and death.
Each name,
bears an untold story,
lives unfinished,
dreams unfulfilled.

in silence,
quietly walk,
the names.
Some weep,
wiping away tears.
Others stare,
in disbelief,
so many, many names.

on the walls,
that speak:
"Don't forget my name!"


by Larry Turner
She found the wings a child had lost,
picked them up, offered them to me.
"Do you have children?"
I chuckled, dismissed her gift.
"My children are older."
As old as you, I didnít add.

She saw my book, asked what haiku are.
I explained these poems of the moment,
as you do to the person in the next seat,
and, guessing her home and language,
showed her some by French and French-Canadian poets.

As others watched the movie in blind-drawn dimness,
she felt my arm around her under the blanket,
opened her eyes, turned to me and whispered.
"Is this a haiku experience? I thought
it was a pleasant dream.
Put your head on my shoulder and rest.
What is your name?"
I breathed it to her, asked her hers.

In the terminal I
forgot her name, refused her wings.

Absence of Light

by Sally Calhoun
When I was a child, and it was time to put away
the books and toys, and to be tucked in and say
my prayers, most often I would find
that other thoughts would first go churning through my mind,
thoughts of a witch in the closet
or under the bed,
and I would first say, instead,
"Mama, would you please leave the light on in the hall?"
And she would nod, and I would say my prayers,
and she would kiss me, and the light
would stay with me while I drifted off to sleep through that dark night.

Later, when I was grown,
and on the verge of marriage,
my love and I stood by a tree on a warm night
quite near the lake, and the darkness closed
around us like a healing envelope.
Caught in the rapture and the promise of a silent kiss,
we sensed the force that brought us this,
a mystery soon to be revealed,
yet never to be fully shown,
for, although together, we were also very much alone,
a paradox that, through the ages, all couples have known,
but yearn forever to dissuade each other of that fact
within the confines of the marriage bed.

There came another darkness, later on,
as our family grew and prospered,
that was on my nights of teaching
as I drove along the highway in the dark
on my way home. There was very little light,
and sometimes snow came pelting down, burgeoning into drifts,
and perhaps another care would come from beyond,
and carefully we passed, our headlights leading us along,
for the center line was absent, having been withdrawn
by whirling snow. Then, the other car was gone,
leaving me alone with my silent thoughts and the music on the radio,
weary, but sensing that behind I'd left
a job well done. And so the years passed, and the trip
continued for me and my car, my sailing ship.

Darkness comes in many forms. Sometimes with deceit,
sometimes with the flame of consuming but inappropriate desire,
sometimes with the agony of despair,
sometimes with the sense that there
is nowhere else to go
but onward, toward a certain death.

But this I know, darkness can be comforting,
and is not always sinful.
Sometimes it inspires awe as well as dread,
and where awe lives there must be hope, instead.

At other times darkness is something plain and neutral,
not to be attended to
but simply waited out.

The trick is just to realize and think about the fact
that darkness is nothing but a point of view
and, when need be, can be quickly put to flight
by full awareness of one's own adult strong inner light.

Mystic Slopes

by Dr. Sarada Purna Sonty
I hear enchanting sweet chimes
That rang for me a thousand times
I feel the song of laughing white
I follow the imprints left by the notes!
Could feet ever become flying wheels
The looks become the fleeting birds
Romancing the shining stars in mighty skies
Digging secret tales of time and tunnels
Through mountains, sees and breeze
I hear you sing in the mystic slopes
You threw away the bridal veil
The light turns in to unsaid words
I open my eyes to find my self
Again on the turf of endless field
These jingling bells and tinkling cups
Whose voice is this, music never heard
My eyes now close imbibing glow
Above the high and glorious throne
Fadeless rainbow holds umbrella
In the wheeling dance of turning chance
My getting ready to meeting you is really
The "action song" of my fleeting mind
Oh! Alas! The lightning speed of mind!
The bride bringing heavenly chime
Me and my song, we think of each other
All the time intensely form a poetic rhyme
While I am the "over seeing song"
You sing the joy all along to keep
The "going on" of the unheard song
I stay to fill the fading away of the throng
The silence awaits the reaching of song
That constitute this poem in my view!
By drafts of all our speeding stars
Horizon curtain gently drawn now
This combining force of undefined source
Love concealing me and you within!!

An Inward East

by Alan Harris
To calm a care or soothe an anger storm
you pause to breathe your vital inside sun
and, richly quiet with its steady glow
of coremost tenderness and flooding peace,
you reinterpret body's aching bones
as levers placed for mystic ministry,
propelled and infinitely smiled upon
by forces which, when tapped, give tenfold strength.
You find your earth eyes lidded from the room
and focused now on lightened higherness.

In light we are as one, beloved friend.
How can a doubt or fear feel more than mere
when in and up we set our inner sight
to see a splendor further east than east?

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