Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
August 2009
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:

The Poet in Kinsale, Ireland

by Patricia Gangas
The vanishing day sleeps gently on my mist covered eyes,
as the strolling fog wanders through the pubs 
bringing salty air and gray gossip-- 
"Young Johnnie's gone to Belfast
with  talk of peace in the land."
"Nuala O'Leary's husband died
a fortnight ago--so young,
and with the gift of gab, too."

Old men gnawed away by life cradle the warm Guinness,
their faces white as an ice-bound winter.
Young girls drink their dreams
as fiddle music spills out like pious beliefs 
nourishing their altar rail souls.

Outside, into Kinsale's damp night,
sea-swept clouds move over the inky ledges of this mystical land.
Villages drift past like ships on the endless coastline,
and sail cloths wail mournfully over the weed-covered reefs.
A dark beauty is flung before my eyes.
For I love this land that slips through the mist,
the scent of its winds, its hills of green thickets,
the croaking of wild geese.

If only I could stay in this place 
where heaven slides down to the sea,
I could spin out poems, threading the sky like meteors,
unfolding its beauty--
even where its violet veins are hidden from light.


by William Vollrath
I finally saw...
   seasons in the leaves
   beauty in the songbird
   fertility in the soil
   imagination in the clouds
   mystery in the stars
   peace in the night
   power in the sea
   comfort in the wine
   promise in the sunset
   need in your eyes
I finally saw colors

Clock Watcher

by David LaRue Alexander
Clock watcher, clock watcher shame on you!
Do you really have nothing else to do?
There's all the world beyond this clock,
yet you're constantly watching it go tick-tock.

To the other employees is it really fair,
that you're never truly completely there.
Their noses to the grindstone as you try,
to do everything right with just one eye.

Cause the other is constantly watching the span,
between you and your getting off work plan.
You're the expert at assessing the precise duration,
to the moment you leave your own work station.

If only someday you would divert your eyes,
you'd notice you work with some really great guys.
Who want to get home just as much as you,
but focus on their work til the day is through.

Freedom is not free

(Fourth of July weekend)
by Mark Hudson
We went to Ohio, avoiding the cops
Stopping at filthy restroom stops
We got to Ohio and got out of the car
We were going to Laconi's diner and bar
All the family ordered pizza and food
We conversed and we were in a good mood
Norma, dad, mom and I split a pizza four ways
My dad and uncle argued over who pays
My dad took Carly's last piece of pizza off her plate
Without her permission, and then he ate
She came back and said, "Where'd my slice go?"
Dad acted like he didn't know.
My mom scolded him, he looked embarrassed,
But the humor was meant to be cherished.
The next day we went to the Golden Goose
For pancakes, bacon and eggs and orange juice
We were talking about Mark Sanford, the political one
And Uncle Pete thought we were discussing Sanford and Son
It shows how people on TV get confused
And how Mark Sanford has been accused
Then later a different location
Melinda talks about a birthday celebration
The Cleveland Indians coach shows up
And sits next to her with a plate and a cup
To have a birthday party with her
She didn't think it likely to occur.
He says he'll make her Texas sheet cake,
On her next birthday, that's what he'll make.
So she's feeling grateful to be a guest,
And so her next birthday is going to be the best.
The next night, I see a Cleveland Indians game
With my aunt, her friend, and a grandson who came
They really beat the Oakland A's,
It really was a chance to amaze.
I ate peanuts, and a hot dog, too,
And my stomach just grew and grew.
The next day, the fourth, we went to a parade,
We were in the sun, my mom was in the shade.
My cousin's kid Annie was on the float
They were representing the town called Stow
They threw candy to the children and snow cones too
I wanted one, they were red, white, and blue.
Then to Melinda's for a barbecue,
Burgers and dogs, and salads, too.
A lot of people, family and friends
Tons of food till the night ends
Danielle had her 9th birthday cake
Baby Erin called it "catsup" by mistake.
The next day we drove to Michigan where
My Uncle Jack and Renee live there.
We go there and go swimming in the pool
And my uncle gets in the water it's really cool
Then we have barbecue ribs, chicken, and food
Other people eat it's totally good.
Then we light a bonfire and put firecrackers in it
They explode with vengeance for maybe a minute
Then the night is complete with fireworks exploding
We have ice cream with raspberries we don't need goading.
And today I'm here, back on the North Shore,
I love vacations, I wish I could have more.
But I'm lucky I had this one and so
I'll continue to be happy wherever I go!

Lord How Shall I Pray

(To Dad With Love Everlasting, John)
by John E. Slota
Our Father who art in Heaven
What a ride, what a ride!
Generations ago, just yesterday it seems
I entered the race running.
Fast, like the wind that slips through the trees.

Hallowed be Thy name
God oh God, oh Jesus!
Today I lay here like a cold still Winter's Night
My mind fixed on what will be.
Midnight where is the warmth of thy sun?

Thy kingdom come
Get my clothes and get me dressed!
Please pack my bags.
Oh yes, do tell me,
Where are we going today?

Thy will be done
Oh Jesus, I feel you near.
It's a feeling I've known all along
That's been with me always
Like a favorite song.

On Earth as it is in Heaven
Birth to painful birth
I am come and gone.
Miss me not I am simply transformed.
In this mystery life abounds.


Bowing to the Wind

by David Mckenna
I put my hand in tar today
and wiped it on my sleeve

I walked through wet cement and knew
my trail would never leave

I laugh   I sing   I tease my heart 	
with words I'll never write

but innocence is something more
than knowing wrong from right 

the most important thing I do 
is treating people kind

the more I live the more I bend

and sense the wisdom of the wind

Our Lady's Campfire Christmas

by Rick Sadler
You  dream  of  camping  on  Christmas   eve
And  gaze  into  the  campfire's  make  believe
There's  no  clouds  on  this  December  night 
As  the  campfire's  embers  burn  so  bright
Your  imagination  peers  into  Divine  Grace
You'll  receive  inspiration  in  a  forest  place
The  smoke  is  rising  as  before  you  there
Revealing  the  image  of  our  Lady's  stare
She'll  be  completely  enclosed  in  the  smoke
Smell  the  sweet  aroma  of  burning  oak
Then  she  said  in  a  voice  so  very,  very  dear
"The  days  of  Christmas  are  counted  clear
Look  up  into  the  light  of Christmas   nows
See  my  son  Jesus  in  between  your  brows"
All  the  Forest  Creatures  were  all  silent
As  they  listen  to  the  Virgin   Mary's  accent
Even  though  as  the  twilight  fades  above
The  Forest  was  alive  with  Christmas  love
Would  you  also  take  a  moment  and  listen  to
The   Queen's  Christmas  by  her  and  me  two
                           by Rick Sadler
                           and the Virgin Mary

My Morning Sickness

by Jason Sturner
my morning sickness
is a morning dream
of reaching for the girl
that keeps falling
off my edge
reoccurring memories
dive-bomb the present
blooming up the gut
to break open
old scars in the heart
the dream fades
when day hits its fist
pulling fresh thin skin
over broken bone
I walk the park
in mindful stride
a stress-heavy head
chiseled clean by calm
I turn the corner
and sink into a stop
there, a man sits in the grass
holding his baby in laughter
and now, my morning sickness
concerns an unknown child--
a child that would look so much
like her and me


by Donna Pucciani
The red-rimmed eye of the frog
does not catch mine as I watch
the edge of the pond,
hoping.  The birdless birdhouse
on its lonely pole waits for
bluebirds, gets wrens.
I pray for hummingbirds to hover
at the syrup-filled cylinder,
offering their green-feathered breasts,
their ruby-throated bliss, for sugar.
They never appear. They know
that getting too close
is what makes suffering.

I contemplate the sky, emulate
the lidless stare of the frog,
claim my lily pad today,
my sun-warmed rock tomorrow.
I keep my songs to myself,
alone in meadow and wood,
seeking herb, wildflower and berry
for sustenance, not company.
I avoid the eye of the fox. I maintain
a safe distance, cultivate solitude,
let my ego sleep in the shade
of the catalpa, its big-hearted leaves
tracing the lines of my face.

(First published in Ariel)

Haiku for Jim

by Annie
You came home last night
Once again your smile brought joy
But I woke too soon

With Eternal Love,
Mom (Annie)

Gloved One, Loved One

(For Michael Joseph Jackson)
by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
My heart is heavy, as I watch news footage of you
gliding across the stage and gyrating your pelvis,
At this moment in time this is bigger than the Duke,
man, this is bigger than  Elvis!
Though you made your living with words, today there
are no words to express the way the world feels,
Right now there is no need to go into your discography
because it encompasses valleys and hills.
But where do I begin, should I start with your amazing
solo career or should I start with the Jackson 5,
When you were just a cute little boy,
On stage you were talented and outgoing,
Yet off stage you were introspective and coy,
In the 70's,  you put the world into a trance
with your 'fro and bell bottomed jeans as you did the robot,
Michael, you had everyone at your feet because when
you danced and sang you gave all that you got!
Nat King Cole was a merry ole soul as he sat perched
up against mama's old wooden phonograph next to Billie Holliday,
Roberta Flack and the Jackson's Destiny album,
Lord, have mercy you all grew up to be mature, sexy and
Ooh, wee, or should I say 'hee hee hee' about that
pulsating falsetto,
That reached every country, mansion, island, barrio,
prison, hut, suburb and ghetto!
I am old school and I remember coming home from school
putting on your albums,
These were the days before CD's, MP3 players, and
Goodness gracious, listening to your music was heaven
sent directly from God.
You were a great admirer of the legendary James
It warmed my heart to see you at an award show holding
his crown.
You ruled the 80's with a glittering iron glove,
Moon walking into the hearts of millions
Moving as gracefully and as freely as a dove.
Newborns coming into the world already know your
Ailing grandparents in their last days know the same.
You are Gary's finest but the world dubbed you the
'Gloved One'
Michael, your legacy is HIStory, DESTINY, OFF THE
BAD and most definitely a THRILLER.
You are the King of Pop the 'Man In The Mirror'! You
'rocked our world' for over 40 years.
You gave us such memorable songs as Who's Lovin You,
Gotta Be There, Heart Break Hotel, Butterflies, PYT, Billie Jean,
Earth Song, Can You Feel It, Working Day And Night, The Girl
Is Mine, Say, Say, Say, and We 'Remember The Time' you told
us  that 'We Are The World' and to 'Ease on Down The Road.'
You sold out football field stadiums and integrated
MTV music videos.
Back in the day we wore your buttons and donned white
socks and penny loafers,
Now here we stand today in shock and sadness but we
know your pain is over.
Michael, we miss you and though you said 'Heaven Can
Wait', 'You Are Not
Alone', and "Human Nature" is the reason 'I Just
Can't Stop Loving You.'
You were a great humanitarian a sensitive human
Who came to earth and completed your journey now you
can have eternal rest,
The world loves you 'Gloved One' but the Lord truly
knows best.
We 'Never Can Say Goodbye' to you 'Lovely One.'

Five Million Poems

by Jim Lambert
Five million poems will be written today

about our first time afternoon trysts
and the day that Kennedy was shot
and the next day that Kennedy was shot
and the mule that pulled Martin Luther King to his funeral
and everything else that happened in 1968
and the war that smothered our souls
and the moon landing
and the first transistor radio
and when the TV came home
and when it changed colors
and when our sideburns approached our mustaches
and when we had our first period
and the night Chet Huntley signed off for the last time
and about love and loss
and joy and hope
and what we lost in 1981

and all will be about Walter Cronkite                               
  and being the way it was

The Great Adventure

by Susan T. Moss
Her small apartment was alive
with visitors, family mostly,
from sister to sister-in-law, cousins
to only son,

all coming to chat and seek news
of her failing lungs pulling
on tank-filled oxygen while
the television shrieks The Price Is Right.

No one knows how much longer
her son will be the parent
or how much lemonade guests might drink
as the memories unfold,

like the last rose of summer,
deeply rooted in bitter sweetness
and recollected with an urgency
only those who wait can know.

And what is left when all else fades
and drops, petal by petal, is the 
burning love that connects all
who enter through the front door.

(Appeared in Caduceus)

Boy on a Bike

by Ruan Wright
I felt it with him
the breeze against his face
the tang of danger
in case he lost his grip
on his buddy's shoulders

the one who
shoved the pedals
for both of them

I was in my car
with the windows closed
and a trunkload of groceries

The boy saw me
he raised a triumphant arm
and whooped

Across the world
at market
another boy straps
too heavy a burden
against his blazing chest

Sale of a 1997 Jaguar

by Bonnie Manion
Years ago son Dan, a mechanical
engineer, advised his Dad about
the supurb mechanics of the vehicle.
Paul acquired our sporty bronze Jag
from the Turkish embassy in Chicago,
driven a mere four thousand miles
before driving home his bargain.
Sleek, sophisticated and jazzy, this car
gave Paul a new aura of professionalism,
of establishment success that had eluded
the son of a factory man.  Miles and years
later, a van bore into him from behind,
loaded with kids arguing with their mother.
It took five months to straighten the Jaguar's
crumpled body.  Paul's back will never recover.
On the road again, miles mounted as more
years rolled by.  Burled wood dashboard
remained dashing, tan leather seats still
buttery and svelte, scratches kept to
a minimum.  The car looked nearly new,
model change delayed by Jaguar for years.
The tall older couple came dressed for
a sophisticated encounter.  Her black skirt
ended mid-calf, paired daringly with red
ankle-strap slippers.  His slacks draped
elegantly above black-tassled loafers. 
Her long dark curls tangled youthfully and
his white locks looked Clintonesque,
giving the chic pair tacit entitlement
to this classy-looking car.
Retired university professors, the well-dressed
couple checked over our Jaguar with many
questions, carefully slipped out of the driveway
on a test run, zipping with pleasure at high
speed when out of sight of the sellers.  Dressed
fit to kill, the car and its new drivers made
a good-looking team: sleek, sophisticated, jazzy.
The Jag was a winner.

Variations on the Theme of Paradise

by Herb Berman
she steps down from the sky down from my exhalations fogging the winter night she walks on my breathing to my frozen lips she doesn't kiss me I remember her when I remember to dream she turns away her breath fills the sky the sky turns white with longing the sky disappears I am lost
light is everywhere it's neither sun nor moon nor glittering ice she steps down from the sighing mist light in her eyes she opens her mouth to speak to sing to scream climb, she says, the final step is your answer I climb she watches light is everywhere

Yorktown Mall

by John Pawlik
At a crossroads
Beside old graves--
The light changes

The Apple Tree

by Farouk Masud
Ah!  she still stands!
The apple tree in the backyard of my old house,
planted right next to the garage.
As a child, I used to climb this tree
like a livid leopard,
trying to reach its luscious apples.
Those were the good old days:
Not caring for anyone but myself.
I lived to have fun, 
to be young,
to be innocent.
Some days,
I'd tie a rope around one of its limbs
and swing like Spiderman--
not Tarzan,
he's lame.
Other days,
I'd tie an old, used up towel around my neck,
jump onto the garage from the tree 
and fly like Superman--
not Shazam!,
he's lame also.
But I always took a time out to eat
those tasty apples.
all my good old days have long since abandoned me.
I no longer have fun,
I'm no longer young
and I'm all but innocent.
The tree is now rotted and dead.
It's stripped naked of its bark.
It no longer resembles the colorful tree of old.
It no longer bears the sweet fruit
that used to sustain my little body.
Its decrepit old limbs reach for the sky
as if salvation would come to claim it.
And the rope is all that remains.
This tree was my best friend.
She looks as lonely as I am.
Like a good friend,
I'll keep her company,
and I'll ask the rope to assist me one more time--
like Dr. Kevorkian!--
not Dr. Ruth,
she's the lamest! 


by Larry Turner
King David, of blessed memory, was a great sage and recognized transmigrations. When he saw Uriah the Hittite, he knew that he was the Serpent who had seduced Eve, and when he saw Bathsheba he knew that she was Eve, and he knew that he himself was Adam.
                                   Sefer ha-Peli'ah, (Fourteenth Century)

Only a few of us today have 
King David's gift. He said so himself 
when I spoke with him the other day. 
Currently he is harpist with the Seattle 
Symphony. Of all the tasks he ever 
undertook--killing lions, killing 
giants, ruling the kingdom of Israel--
playing the harp relaxes him most. 
In the Twentieth Century David 
and Bathsheba were Juan and Eva Peron.

Does Hillary Clinton reincarnate 
Eleanor Roosevelt? No way! 
Hillary used to be Susan B. Anthony. 

There's Abraham Lincoln and 
John Wilkes Booth in a ferocious, 
no-holds-barred bout of 

	         Can you hear me above all 
this racket? A newborn baby screaming rage 
and joy. A most peculiar rhythm. It sounds 
for all the world as if he's singing, 
"Billie Jean is not my lover
She's just a girl who claims that I am the one."

Peaceniks in the Garden

by Mardelle Fortier
Flowers breathe
without the need to shoot a gun.
They lift their yellow heads
happy to feel the sun.
Quietly they let their petals
ripple in light or shade.
They never crave (isn't it weird?)
to lob off a hand grenade.

(Published in Hazmat Review, Fall '06)

Harry's Place

by Chris Holaves
Four/four time jamming,
Saxophone smoothly blowing,
Steel guitar twanging,
And a gutsy voice singing--
All translating the soul's sound to melodies--
And I'm at Harry's Place
Where time with imagination flies
And bodies move to the rhythm,
Excited by the vibes of the soul made apparent.

One, two, three, four you know
It starts and bounces
Up, down, all around.
One, two, three, four 
And there's more
Music plays on,
Electrifying me to move
Energy full
Limbs grooving for my soul gets a new face
At Harry's Place,
So cool with a new groove and a new a vision.

The singer sings on--
Words of meaning muffled
With base, drum and rhythm
And all this dresses my soul--
A new heart beat, energy and freedom
Invisible wings that carry me away from the fall
Making my worries going, going, gone!
And the beat
My soul moves my feet and I tap four/four

And singers, organ, drum, guitars, and horn
Back up the lead voice.
My soul is re-born,
Dressed with energy and vision,
A new choice.
And in harmony the soul moves my body
And feet to dance--all are synchronized,
To move in concert with my soul
And nobody cares or bothers me at all.

Harry's Place knows no race
But the heart and soul
And all who visit quickly learn to embrace
Music, God's language for us all.

(First published in State Line News)


(after Billy Collins)
by Wilda Morris
I want to console you on this rainy day, dear reader,
when your dog wants to take a walk and you don't.
I want to tell you I'm sorry your toast burned
and you dropped that raw egg on your newly waxed floor.
Things are bound to get better---unless you get a late notice
from your credit card company because you forgot
to pay the bill and the added interest is enough
to purchase a shiny new Yamaha motorcycle;
or the boy next door comes begging
for a cookie, steps under your arm as you hold the door
slightly ajar and tracks mud through the living room. 
Don't worry. You can rent a steam cleaner
or hire a company to give your carpet royal treatment.
Just don't put it on your credit card and forget to pay again.
But as I said, the day is bound to go better---
unless your brother-in-law arrives with his wife
and six children, surprised you never received his letter
saying they decided to vacation all week at your home,
and you're out of butter, have no fresh meat on hand,
that egg you dropped was your last one,
and it's time for lunch and the children are whining.
But no matter, you can take them to Chili's
or Country Buffet and put it on your credit card.
So, dear reader, take the dog for a soggy walk
despite the pounding rain and he'll eat the burnt toast,
lick the broken egg from the floor---and you can get credit
from your in-laws for having a clean kitchen.

(First published in the Rockford Review, Summer-Fall, 2009)

the silence of war

by Andrew Rafalski
Long before lights
planets and
as the war they love
shifts life away
and limbs asunder

nothing happens
but wailing and weeping
in camouflaged strife

I found
another strange presence
speaking assorted lies
crying at impromptu events
and yet I laugh with tears
in color


by William Marr
try to compete
with human desires
they find even with steel and concrete
they are no match for materialistic cravings
breeding and rising without end in their shadows

English Teacher Unbound

by Alan Harris
Dickinson. Frost. Eliot.
Wonderful vetted poets--
but sameness of names
in every school.
My students are alive--
they need MEANING,
not biography-worship.

Bless Keats and
jolly Shakespeare
for all they wrote--
but now let's dare
to anonymize these
bards around whom
schools have
mummified their
curricula by means
of committee after
kowtowing to
conformist after
department head
after principal as
the decades ditto on.

I'd rather pluck
new writings out of
most abundant
throw them all
nameless into
a vibrant pile,
then pull them up
one by three--
READ them--
BE them--
poems and stories
written by unknowns
who may inspire
and kindle fire.

I fully CARE,
but I'm captive
in this well-lit,

SOULS come here,
parched souls.
We're to feed them
stacks of
cardboard facts
and poetic forms
to memorize--
vital to know,
we con, because
they'll be on
the final exam.

Teachers, let us
wake very much up!
Dare we transcend
the tried and dead?

Let's each write a sonnet
on why we don't read
sonnets--or an elegy
for the deceased
meanings of passion.

What would Shakespeare
write about our schools?
"Much Ado about Atrophy"?
And Robert Frost?
"The Railroad Not Taken"?

I am nobody
to be writing like this,
nor am I in your syllabus,
but I can still breathe.

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.

Note to ISPS poets: Poetry posted on the Internet may be considered published by some publishers and agents.