Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
August 2004
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Poems on this Page:


by Todd Possehl
Artistic, she'd wear black, mostly,
and hand-me-downs.

Literate, but wouldn't join
a writers group.

She'd listen to obscure avant-garde
bands, and have no need

to share them with anyone.

Her eyes, lovely and dark,
would always miss your stare.

Mysterious, you'd wonder where
she works, lives.

A gallery? A loft?

You'd run into her once or twice
but it's surreal --

her words peculiar, cryptic.

You'd be intrigued.

She couldn't care.

Cosmic Communion

Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
by Sister Meg Holden, FSP
Sunday afternoon,
Brooklyn Botanical Gardens,
mild and sunny day.

In this place of green calm,
people stroll,
chidren play,
couples laugh,
strangers smile naturally
at one another.

Within this sacred space,
there is no war,
no conflict, no killing,
no harsh words.
Competition has been left
at the garden door.

In the garden of peace,
flowers, trees and humankind
are in harmony.
Gathered together
all are one,
united in cosmic communion.


by Dr. Sarada Purna Sonty
Pouring light is silver bright
Slipping life is loosing sight
Shines 'love' like a lady bug
Rejoice emotions in choking hug
Potter's clay moulds with bursting sound
Shadows laughs deal of nothingness bound
Who says we are void's breeds
But roaming quarry caves freed
'Absence of light' sincere seer says
Life's retracer of final cause!

The Field

by Ruth La Sure
The field lay slumbering
in frozen antiquity,
bronze in the half winter sun,
gray in the evening's chill.
I circle the perimeter
of the season
preparing my own.

Remembering the bud of spring
who left with a wave of her hand,
a maidenly gesture,
with glances that followed
the eyes of the rain,
subsiding to damp smells of land.

Then a full-blown woman
lay laughing
sprawled in the belly of the field
extending the season
pass autumn
with goldenrod in her hair.


by James L. Corcoran
Taste of steam in the throat throb
with motion acceleration respiration
perspiration molecules expanding in
the elements of taste taking on
peripheral excitements and boiling
boiling boiling in the recipe the
grip of heat in the clench of life
the coursing of sweat and blood
tearing through it all the sun source
of heat filling the summer days and
nights memory with pavement hot
enough to bake pizza at 10:00 p.m.

all cats are gray in the dark

by Steven Kappes
my gray tabby
is stretched out
along the length
of a step
halfway down
the darkened basement stairway

he sees me coming
and just lies there
looking up at me
with trusting eyes

as far as he knows
I can see as well
in the dark
as he can

he doesn't know
my limitations
my failings
he can only go
by his own experience

he reminds me a lot
of people I meet
every day
who can only see the world
from their own experience
from their own knowledge
who have never looked
beyond the end
of their own noses

people who believe
the politicians tell them
and then
like my cat
are surprised
when they get stepped on


(for H.)
by James Conroy
The gap of sense between memory and heart
continues to amaze me. Only this morning
I awoke before the alarm to find you
still beside me in this new season
sprung on us like tender rain, the bedroom
window curtain trembling the way you do
when making love in the afternoon on our day
off and the room is bright and the ice cream man
is outside grinding his monotonous nursery rhyme.
You once asked what tune that was and it took me
hours to remember. Heard it a thousand times.
Sang it as a child. But just then it was lost.
I was that carried away. Looked up at the window
from the bed. Lace as calm as your skin.


by Michelle True
Raw, fresh;
the pain is acute.

Over time it lessens
yet never goes away;
the scars never fade.

All it takes is a look,
an action or a word
to re-open old wounds;
a well-chosen phrase
that twists the knife
permanently stuck
in the heart.

We become experts
in hiding our wounds
from each other.

Apologies and forgiveness
are the miracle cure
for our wounds yet
ego and stubborn pride
won't allow us to
perform these simple acts.

So we go on
hurting each other,
peeling small scabs,
making wounds bleed anew.

No bandages,
no surgery,
no medicine
can heal our wounds.

While our blood merges,
coagulating on the floor
we step over and around it,
pretending it doesn't exist,
there's nothing wrong,
we feel no pain,
we have no wounds.

Has All Been Said

by Shirley Anne Leonard
Have poets through the ages said it all?
Can more be added to their fervent lore
by us, who live today in time's great hall
with avenues more fearsome to explore?

Our world has widened to the universe
with daring travel to the moon and Mars.
Though some still honor God, yet others curse
and clear solutions seem remote as stars.

So have we come thus far and do not know
why we are here, and why the earth goes on
downtrodden with the weight of human woe,
the hindsight garnered through the ages gone?

But no--not all's been said, nor e'er will be
while yet our hearts yearn for eternity.

Lux Nova

by John Mahoney
That golden summer I discovered Anne--
a girl as rare as a snowfall in mid-June.
I found her on a windless afternoon
just as the wail of mourning doves began.
She was seated on a birch divan,
in a gazebo perched atop a dune
that overlooked a lotus-filled lagoon,
stirring lazy currents with her fan.

Her eyes were brown as buckeyes fresh from husk,
her umber eyebrows curved like willow boughs,
her lips were colored like a coral vase.
we fell into free discoursse until dusk
began more darkly to define her brows,
and light my soul her self-hood to embrace.

Air Blowing from a Cubistic Fan: 3:20 A.M.

by Sally Calhoun
I wake from a gentle dream,
its story first mingling with,
then sinking beneath the humming,
oscillating output from the fan across the room,
wavering yet steady,
like so many contradictory aspects of myself.

It is my partner for the night,
swooping to and fro
like a giant silvery bird,
high above in the jungle where there is no moon, no stars,
majestic, like some feathered leader delivering an inaugural address to its flock,
lulling me awake

with thoughts of how much there is to do,
how much there is to pack
into the day ahead,

while that silvery, quivery avian
perched on the wardrobe
sings on throughout the night to its flock, working the room,
back and forth, and back and forth
unencumbered by varied inflections and all that such imply,
never pausing
for breath.

My Mother and God

by John Quinn
If there is a Paradise
my mother will get her children there.
She will wag her finger at God
and make excuses for our sins,
she'll scowl,
hooded eyes,
pugnacious jaw,
nostrils wide with indignation
and always, her index finger waving.

"One more chance, God,
give him one more chance!
You and me, a mother and a Diety.
He'll listen to us.
He'll be good this time,
just one more chance."

She'll keep pleading, arguing, nagging
until God throws up His hands and says,
"Okay! Okay!
All your children can come to Heaven,
but you're responsible!"

Then, she'll appear in a dream
and tell us to polish our shoes,
put on our best outfit,
comb our hair, sit still
and for God's sake, behave!

Ophelia's Dream

by Barbara Eaton
Last night
I dreamt I was visiting England,
looking for Hamlet.

The houses
were piled on top of one another
and the rooms were tiny.
It seemed there was no way out.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
directed me to a library
where Hamlet
was teaching a small class.

My heart went out to him.

Claudius and Laertes
lectured hundreds of dutiful students
while Hamlet
sat on the edge of his desk
and kept an audience of fifteen

I wanted to buy Hamlet a theater ticket.
A little Antony and Cleopatra
might do him a world of good.
Large, gold coins
disappeared out of my pocket
and were replaced by small, dingy ones.

Hamlet said I could stay with him
for twenty pounds a month
and I agreed.

We went to a door
that opened out onto the Atlantic Ocean.
The white-capped waves were frozen.

For My Dad

by Sherri Smith
There is a huge hole left in my heart
The part that you occupied

You were getting better
The news was so unexpected

When I left you, you were cheerful
Rosy cheeked, and a positive attitude

I didn't tell you good-bye
Just "See you next time."

I knew it was the last
I didn't want to face it

Fourteen years of knowing you
Wasn't enough; enough to know you loved me

I wish I had told you about my book
It was supposed to be a surprise

But you know, you know.
Thanks for passing down the writing genes.

I just want you to know that I love you
My book is in memory and tribute you Dad.

Thanks for giving me the desire
To be a writer.

I am living my dream
For you, My Dad

John E. Sheppard
8/24/29 6/23/04

If I Go Back Now

by Dr. S. V. Rama Rao
I cannot explain to anyone
the silent anguish,
this painful feeling
of migration from
the country I came from.
If I go back now to settle down,
to the place of my birth,
I may not survive long.

My friends with whom I studied
left for far off lands,
to pursue higher studies
or seeking greener pastures
but never returned.
Some settled down in
far flung States.
Others are no more:
departed to the birthplace of their souls.
Quite a few became ill
at an early age,
by unshakable poverty
and ever-increasing family burden.

Where I looked
I faced new faces,
none I knew.
Even the street names
I was familiar with
have been replaced.
The house I was born in
is now a gas station.
Even the burial ground
my parents chose
as a final resting place
is no longer theirs
but belongs to
whoever comes next.

I think myself a vagabond,
-- a troubadour-- pleasing every one,
roaming everywhere uninvited --
claiming every place as mine.
Even the country I live in now
-- years and decades --
is not mine.
Whom do I tell
about my pain?

The river born at one place
rushes out to unknown places,
changing course many a time
in its length and breadth,
but never returns
-- even once --
to its place of birth.


by Wilda Morris
between the man and woman
eating chicken almond ding

broken only
when a fork scratches a plate
a cup is set down

so comfortable
in each other's presence
they need few words

The above poem was published in
Free Verse, May/June 2004.

Tavern Talk

by Alan Harris
Did you ever look deeply
into the eye of a chicken?

No, you say,
they have
nothing between their eyes
but cartilage,
and you laugh at your little joke.

Did you ever look deeply
into the eye of a chicken?

Yes, you say, and
it came over and bought
me a drink,
and you laugh some

Did you
ever look
deeply into
the eye
of a chicken?

No, you say, have you?

Yes, I have.

What did you see? you ask.

I saw a light like a little
egg-shaped sun,
and inside it were countless
smaller eggs.
It was like touching my eyeball
to a live wire,
and it lasted for only a split second,
but I saw infinity in the eye of a chicken.

Yeah, I saw that once in a waitress's eye,
you say with a snicker.

Same infinity I saw,
only I didn't have to leave a tip.

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