Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
August 2007
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4017 Massachusetts

by John Pawlik
Dusk sets
On the neighborhood

And again some incautious ant
Has been caught in the sap
That drips down the trunk
Of the old oak in the front yard

Perhaps before it died
It saw young boys intent on war
Galloping up and down the road

The well fed cat
Passing across the street
To its usual hunt in the empty lot
Becoming a tiger in the weeds

Those brick and wooden houses
With tarpaper roofs
Which somehow seemed so sepulchral
That no son really wanted to go inside

So the stars will sparkle
If only for just a little longer

On a troop of bicycles
Bound and determined
For one last charge

7 on 7/7/07

by Mark Hudson
I went on vacation to go to Ohio,
Someone could've said, "Oh, why go?"
Because it was my cousin's kid's birthday
Danielle, a girl who likes to play.
She'll be 7 years old on 7/7/07,
It shows that little girls are made in Heaven.
Thursday the 28th, we went to Laconi's,
Had a lot of pizza with pepperoni's,
Friday the 29th, took Annie for a walk,
And my oh my could this 3-year old talk
She threw rocks in a puddle to see the splash
"Yucky seaweed" as she threw in some trash
1:00-2:00-went to Texas Roundhouse for eats
My sister and nephew showed up, we got seats
You could eat peanuts, that's what there for
But you shouldn't just drop the shells on the floor
Saturday the 30th-we went to the zoo
John took his kids, Danielle came along too.
The first thing we saw were the penguins on display
And we went through the zoo, it was okay.
We stopped for burgers, dogs, and macaroni
Then the kids got to see a big pretty pony.
There was a place you could play, the kids wanted to go
So we allowed them to play for a moment or so.
Then we came to a choo-choo train, and you know
The kids had to ride it before they would go.
So it was quality time spent with the youth of my clan,
The Albanese kids had a father named Dan.
That is, Carly, Danielle and Kyle,
Each of these kids gives me a smile.
The Mcilroys have little Annie and Sean
A third babie's arriving from Melinda and John
Sunday the 30th-we had a brunch
And it's hard to say if it was breakfast or lunch
We had an egg casserole to stuff our bellies
And english muffins with butter and jellies
The kids were swimming in a pool out behind
And none of the adults seemed to really mind
The birthday party was happening later
KFC which would almost be catered
Buckets of chicken would be for the guests
The kids were behaving almost their best
I played with Annie on the front lawn
Making plado snakes until her father John
Showed up, and we knew, it was time to eat chicken,
And as they say, it was finger lickin'!
Then Kyle took the role of a host,
He showed us a film he made about a ghost.
It was pretty funny, not too scary,
He has to shave now, he's getting quite hairy.
It was time for Danielle to open her stuff,
She got a lot, but never quite enough.
But she was old enough to appreciate what she'd receive,
Because don't you know there will be more on Christmas Eve!
It was time to go home, and I wished them all well
And wished good birthday blessings on my cousin Danielle.
All those seven's must mean she's lucky as can be,
I'm glad she's a character in my family tree!
My cousin will have a third baby in a week or two
My sister will have a baby girl. September's when she's due
All these babies in my family makes me have a wish
That I can continue to keep collecting tropical fish!
These are the only babies I can seem to really handle,
When they have their birthday, I don't even need a candle!

Dreams of Glory

by Herb Berman

    You Onlookers

    Whose eyes watched the killing.
    As one feels a stare at one's back
    You feel on your bodies
    The glances of the dead.

    *        *        *

    You onlookers,
    You who raised no hand in murder,
    But who did not shake the dust
    From your longing,
    You who halted there, where dust is changed
    To light.

    — Nelly Sachs,
    tr. from German by Ruth and Matthew Mead —

How wanly they flicker
in their humdrum dying,
these unwelcome ghosts,
dim shadows on the Nightly News
who haunt the corners
of our ruined imaginings.
They have breathed the toxic dust
of our toxic dreams till
they can dream and breathe no more.

Glorious dreams animate
our nightly news and in our sacred longing
we rain poison on sinner and sinned-against,
props in our longed-for Holy War.

I who raised no hand in murder
cannot shake the dust from my longing.
I cannot dream simple dreams of
simple glory. I choke in the toxic dust
of broken dreams and broken bodies.
The call of the dove is not heard in our land
and the time of singing is past.*

Let us not dream
that out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword,
that with it he should smite the nations.**
In a still small voice let us whisper†
honeyed words of peace.
In peaceful homes and
in the streets of busy cities,
in office and factory,
farm and school, in the
chambers of the mighty,
let dreams of glory cease.

Let us raise our voices,

    and together

lay siege to heaven and earth
with our modest plea
that no dream of glory dare
annihilate the blameless child,

    and together

let us sing
that hope is not forlorn,
that there's glory enough
in the shining eyes
of a swaddled child that
(today at least)
we suffer not to slaughter
on the sacred altar
of our sacred dreams.

* Inversion of The Song of Songs 2:10
** The Book of Revelation 19:15
†    I Kings 19:12

Other Biblical allusions:
Genesis 12:9
Matthew 19:12

Cosmic Sea

by Farouk Masud
Surfing through the cosmos
upon a blazing comet.
Sailing unknown galaxies.
Mystic space.
Celestial bodies.
Glowing, gem-like planets.
Sizzling stars.
Fireworks cacophony.
A twilight zone symphony.
Encore for my performance!

Aura of such great power beyond comprehension.
An aurora pales in comparison.
Zodiacal constellations form the one-finger salute
as I jet by at light speed.
Milky Way.
Tidal wave.
Surf's up!
Crashing through the shores.
Shores of the universal boundary.
Vortex of alien souls.
Vaulting voids.
Dodging asteroids.
Mashing meteoroids.
Skimming across astral graveyards.
Eat my cosmic dust!
I'm gone...

Wiping out in a black hole,
I know I'm not alone.
A black hole filled with those who have failed.
Who have failed to conquer
the cosmic sea.
Who have dared to surf
the cosmic sea.


by G. C. Rosenquist
Like a buoy I bob and barrel roll
I am into you then under you
I dive where only your shadow flickers
An errand into the extreme

Underneath, the abysmal plain yawns wide
So far down the darkness is warm
But even deeper a great trench grinds its teeth
Into sand and mud
With terrible tremor quakes
The silt is split
And I nautilus crawl along
Searching for safety in lacerations
I hide in the fissures that fracture the bottom
Catching only a glimpse of the gloom above

You'll never find me
But it is enough for you to know that I am here
Wallowing in your waterworks
Your conquest over me complete

Butterfly Restaurant

by James L. Corcoran
Golden fluttery butterfly still basking off the
porch on a lilac flower with a tongue touch

gravitating to a hint of mint swelling up from
wisps of curling wind blowing through the light

in trees full of sunshine landing briefly on the
head of a girl laughing in her garden down

where feathery and fluffy light as a taste of the
wind answer androconia for nectar in pastures

of milkweed and mulberry afloat mingling
on air skirting along drinking off tips-n-tops

of blossoming branches bough gliding guided
by directional scents that hover and pause and

dance and draw attention to the fact that there
are these places to drink up the world over

all one has to do is abandon the cocoon and go

A Daughter, A Son

by Bonnie Manion
What part of daddy is his girl,
Of separate worlds, what sharing?
What will his child reject or fear,
What come from father's caring?

What part of mother is her child,
What gleaned from years of giving?
What will her girl keep safe and sure,
What learn from life and living?

What part of father is a son,
What separate worlds yet sharing?
What lessons does he long recall,
What learns the son from daring?

What part of mother is a son,
What gleans he from her giving?
What keeps the son both safe and pure,
What learns from life and living?

(First published in St. Anthony's
, also in Small Brushes)

Making Friends in the Freshman Dorm

by Beth Staas
I'm sick of poems
about perfect listeners,

These poems don't tell
of nasty fights
that last for days,
of note-stealing
and phone calls
at three in the morning.

These poems don't tell
of secrets confessed
at midnight talks,
and how everyone now knows
you sucked your thumb,
wore a padded bra,
and practiced kissing
on your Cabbage Patch doll.


A real poem
should tell the truth
and be pondered.

Friends are back-stabbing
two-faced pieces
of spiteful spleen.

Now THAT'S a poem.


by William Marr
watching helplessly the departure
of a roaming son
she wonders why
she has to be a southern port
that never freezes

Visions of Time

by Andrew Rafalski
When I awakened myself from the grave
it was late.
God's anxious sky found the secrets
where time was unfolding:

I embraced dreams that no longer were
I found time vanishing
into dusty bits of shadows
and drifting unnoticed
like homeless worms
creeping sadly through rain.

Tomorrow the painted heaven
Today the desperate sky
Yesterday I found death outside
        just standing there

telling me -- all that glitters
are the very green sands
on beaches at the end
of history.


by Sally Calhoun
Once lived a fisherman of low degree
whose lack of wealth had left upon him stamped
distaste for his poor life upon the sea,
and, thus, one night, a wistful dream he dreamt.

Within the dusk of his imaginings
he made himself a tailor, who, by trade,
worked over fine and costly woolen things,
and by whose skilled and agile hand was made
a rich man's cloak. Ah, came such sweet reward,
the gold that rich man found he could afford.

But now the tailor sighed in misery,
for surely, in a world of romance
a living could be gleaned more easily
than from the needle's silent silver dance.
So wild thoughts went scrambling through his head
as he laid down upon his village bed.

In dreams, he was that noble man by birth
whose wealth had given him a yearning taste
for honeyed gold. Forgotten was the worth
of tailor's trade, and with the greatest haste
he fit himself into the courtly plan
which floated 'round the rich and noble man.

Yet even this became not quite enough,
for there, within the noble's haughty mind
reeked discontent, that rotten putrid stuff
which breeds in any place where it can find
a shelter. Need we say the noble found
his comfort in the land where dreams abound?

And what fantastic goal could higher be
in one of such a wealthy social ring
than that of gracious royal dignity?
Thus, now, the noble man became the king.
(Perhaps he thought with dreams so fine and high
his troubled thoughts might shrivel up and die.)

One thinks that discontent would sure retreat
on reaching this, the high majestic throne!
Yet strange things be. And strong within the beat
of blood that surged in royal veins was shown
that human goals don't cease within the court.
And, yet, this dream was of another sort.

Beside a window sat his majesty,
his head a 'nodding in a sleepy rhyme
as he looked out upon the restless sea
and watched the rhythmic billows and the brine
that frothed upon the waves all pounding cold,
a purer crown than any made of gold.

So thought the king within his musing heart
that life upon the wild and changing deep
would be more life than he could ever start
to live. Then, into his light and fitful sleep
he fell, his better dreams by bad ones choked,
'til he cried out-the fisherman awoke!

Poor man. He trembled silent in his bed,
then raised himself, and to the window crept.
He saw the bright moon shining overhead
and watched the silver billows as they leapt
upon the sea. Then smiled he, indeed.
No gold or silver more, now, did he need.

At the Kitchen Sink

by Camille A. Balla
Above the sink
filled with lemony suds,
my hands swish and sweep
around a dinner plate.
I wash, rinse, put it in the rack.

Outside, the red maple stands,
rooted deeply over her domain
of greening grass, lilacs, lavender.
A soft breeze passes from there to here.
I wash, rinse, put it in the rack.

A saucer. Interesting how
this simple, yet dreaded task,
picks up its own rhythm—
links outside to inside, outer to inner.
I wash, rinse, put it in the rack.

Squeezing the cloth, my Mary-side
in sync with Martha-, dishes
like beads being said
one at a time—more than a decade.
I wash, rinse, put it in the rack.

Big mysteries don't get solved,
but quiet answers float atop soapy
solution—inside a simple cup—
while listening on my feet.
I wash, rinse, put it in the rack.


by Susan T. Moss
We sift through landscaped mounds
swollen with worn tires and pink plastic -
buried artifacts of our lives
racing past the moment.

While stars come and go,
Protean travelers
plunging to earth
revealing fiery relics:

astral secrets mixed with billions of molecules
pressed into crystal and dust

offering something tangible,
like diluvian rocks etched
in pictoral logic and timeless fears
that bear witness to meaning
beyond our illusions.

And this, a pleated shell
from seas turned to sand,
whispers its birthplace in my ear.

My Memories Do Not Recognize Me

by Dr. S. V. Rama Rao
To wake up the sleeping night sky
there descended the stars
from the four sides
making unbearable noises in unision
with all kinds of musical instruments,
uncontrollably behaving in rowdy fashion -
shouting and whistling.

   Unseen until now,
   the memories of mine
   somewhere silently hiding
   in the chambers of my heart,
   hearing this utter commotion,
   rushed out
   falling down and getting up amass
   in a hurry,
   not even throwing a passing glance at me
   whom they truly belong to.
   In one leap
   jumping on the backs of the clouds
   galloped towards the stars
   in the sky.

Memories hibernating so long
in the locked room of my consciousness
came out suddenly
not recognizing my very presence, and
left as they emerged in a split second,
leaving me alone
standing and staring in disbelief.

   My awaiting eyes
   have never seen them until now.
   It mattered not to them that
   I was drenched in ecstatic joy
   first time I saw them
   coming out of me.
   The forgotten memories of mine that
   spread the whole span of my life,
   remained obscured so long, and
   even now,
   when they appeared
   as a glimpse
   for the first time,
   I could not see them
   for my hearts content
   even for a minute,
   unable to hug them in silence
   for a second,
   nor touched their heads
   with my loving hands,
   as they simply
   ignored me
   as an unfamiliar passer by.


by Alan Harris
All roads out are blocked
by this rockslide in your mind?
All roads in await.

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