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Poems by ISPS Members
August 2011
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Sunshine Scarf

by William Marr
     Letter of a friend from the South: "It's full of sunshine here today.
     I believe your place is still covered with ice and snow. Do you
     want me to cut a piece of sunlight and make you a scarf?"
snow-laden boughs
stop trembling
From afar
chirps of birds
can be heard
drawing nearer and nearer
One after another we see
contracted necks
straighten up
and s-t-r-e-------t---c--h

This must be the scarf
which lit up
Modigliani's eyes
and illuminated
Paris sky
that glooming winter
a riot of color

seaglass and other things

by Gail Goepfert
on stilted legs the sandpiper
            skitters and pokes
            atop the fragmented
            geology of beach
shadowing its steps
I listen for its
as it skirts the shushing waves
            unmindful of the endless ribbon
where water meets sand
where toes and ankles
            zigzag in its path
the sun-buttered beach gathers
            slivers of turquoise
            and honey amber seaglass
            shells with names like baby's ear
            periwinkle and moonsnail
for me to secret
            in my pocket
prayer offerings
            from the sea


by Susan T. Moss
I don't trust these teasing
days when March catapults
in from the south,

rummages through trash
cans and blasts its first
triumph over winter.

Still dressed in heavy coat,
I walk beneath jet vapor
trails crisscrossing sapphire

sky and watch waves lip
and curl the rocky shore.
I search for a first sailboat,

taut triangles feeding off
capricious winds, but today
only a cloud bank posing

as a flamboyant regatta
billows on the horizon.
Anything could still happen —
a cold blast from the north,
more gray days with freezing
rain to steal early buds seduced

by a flirtatious sun or a frenzied
snow to stifle the premier
of spring's overture.
(Honorable Mention in
NFSPS Contest)

Can You Dig It, Girl?

by Jason Sturner
I washed you out
with a few cold beers,
your pretty face
among old parts in the garage.
You had me under your sheets
before I realized my mistake—
Hooks, lures;
gasping hearts flopping
all over the place.
They say behind every man
is a good woman.
how things have changed.

Birthday in Jail

by David McKenna
Now is not the time for despair      You are 
too young to think your life is ruined     You 
have too much to offer the world    and too 
few wasted years to provide that steel bar 
that mean prison    your anguish     When your star 
is dimming   light waning   as it will do 
near the end of life   you can think back to 
now    as if on a hilltop from afar 
without pain    or sorrow   without guilt    or 
shame   and understand    there was some reason 
why it all had to happen      You will know 
that everything has a place    and what's more 
a fulfilling to your Soul     a lesson 
to be learned     like a river that must flow  


by Dr. Sarada Purna Sonty
You stole my heart,
Omar!   Sang it all !
You robbed my thought!
Omar! Said it all!
How to raise my octave now?
Weak familial tune of mine
In fear of quaking heart
and tremors  goes where?
Feelings of none erupts
in the depths of inner sea
endless echoes vibrating
anguishing heart's tunes
Am not craving for fairy
Dazzling diamond Sapphire pin
But for thy glance of shine!
Omar! Take your turn and go!
Tomorrow's unknown silence
And yesterday's barky chaos
Can't cling my being tight
Nor chock vital song inside
I am not roaming pedestrian

Walks a long shore eating nuts
But predestined soul of dust
Waiting for you to leave Omar!
So my love picks the number
Present never kneads the past
Nor need the future to hold
The Dawn of creation wrote
All get their turn for sure
I will write my songs of
Love and lust and life now
I will sing my   yearning soul
With lyrics of after-life
You may leave the 'love'
To mighty clay suburbs
And take your heart for
A ride to City of heaven!
Oh! My love! Omar is gone!
Be brave! Re-mould Please!
Manuscript need not Lease!

summer's lament

by Marcia Pradzinski
the day warms 
but she wants 
her rust-brown sweater
lined tweed pants
bulky knit cap

she wants a steamy
breath of tea
a hearty stew  
a book 
to bury herself  
from  knowing

she can never 
touch him

Wet Dream

by Farouk Masud
In the city of Chicago,
walking the upscale streets at midnight
with the broken moon shining weakly,
the frozen wind molests my soul
like a wrathful wraith.
I can hear them play
the blues in the distance.
The old man's mellow voice
recounts days long gone:
A pathetic defiance of time and death.
It keeps me going,
venturing down these avenues,
these corridors,
not knowing or caring where I go.
I arrive by the sea-like lake
a little past two.
It's silent.
the fluorescent waves
rhythmically undulate
like electric butterfly wings,
with a beautiful hypnotic sound
that puts the blues to utter shame.
I dive into the lake
to dance to this unearthly music,
to be a part of this liquid realm forever,
without fear,
knowing full well I can't swim. 

Dinner at Bistro Monet

Buried in Squash
by William Vollrath
I fell into my squash
Right near the pickled beets
This French cuisine was great
Until I slipped my seat
Deeper and deeper I sank
Into the orangish-gold
Now dinner's up my nose
At least it isn't cold
Mother told her boys
"Dive in, before it's gone"
But neck-deep in buttered squash
Is much better for fried prawns
I think I might escape
This tasty, golden glop
If I just can get a foot
On top that fat pork chop

second chances

by Steven Kappes
driving alone one hot summer day
down a highway I traveled
many years ago
on another hot summer day
as I arrived home from war

I dream of going back
to that time

if only there could be
a flicker and a flash
and suddenly I was in
the Austin Healey Sprite
bought new that spring
headed for home and family

filled with cooking smells
and warmth and love
our house standing
at the end of the street
not yet an empty barren lot

my sister a high school girl
not a lonely widow
my parents in the prime of life
not long in their graves
and my younger brothers
antagonizing each other

ahead now is the new water tower
built in the recent past
the old water tower
I knew from childhood
cowers in the background

I concentrate with all my might
on that old tower
wish away the new
the new houses on the road
the road itself widened
and repaved many times

but it does no good
I am still here in the present
an old man with his life lived
his choices made long ago
no second chances
no do-overs

the sun beats down
hot wind blows
through open car windows
it was a good life
full of good times
and good people
I doubt I could do better
even if I had a second chance

but one can still dream
of adventure
and challenges
even when
there are few

Mary Loves the Little Children

by Rick Sadler
Some thing about Friday nights when I'm so tired
The Virgin Mary comes to me and I'm so inspired,
Mary heeds me to think of the children that I teach
In the Religion classes that she is trying to reach,
The Virgin Mary is the wonder in the children's eyes
Like the beautiful little Garden that I have never dies,
When I want to quit teaching she lovingly persuades me
To keep trying to do better for our youth are the key,
I don't want to disappoint the Mother of God so I
Hastily I look for an Ink Pen to write this poem and try,
To give her message that it is all for the kids so little
And lead them to Jesus that is pouring from a kettle,
I have a lot of little ones to teach in the coming years
So I'll live for a long time in this Valley of many tears,
I'm running out of things to say and my mind needs rest
I look to the new day as the Virgin Mary says do your best,

In the Promise of a New Day

by Ina Perlmuter
A child is lost
in bustling Boro Park
someone's sweet child
my concentration's spent
replaced by agitation
stomach churning
praying someone will find
a child who vanished
without leaving any sign
I've scrubbed my counters
extra hard
and scrubbed them
once again
but all the time
a child's face
just keeps slipping in
The floors
been swept
of any crumbs
yet I sweep again
I am unraveled
by the thought
of this terrible event
Mothers and fathers
who've watched their child play
feel great panic
when the child strays from sight
imagine the suffering of a parent
when their child is missing over night
Shomrim of Boro Park
of Williamsburg and
Flatbush too
have all joined in the search
for a missing little Jew
Many who came
to join the search
wept openly when
they learned their work was done
and the search was over
for a family's missing son
It will be remembered
how on one awful night
Jews of various persuasions
who walked the streets of Boro Park
in the hours after dark
walked it long into the night
came together to unite
and I'd like to tell his family
now in pain
numb with sorrow
that Leiby's neshuma
virtuous and pure
bore the inscription
'forward on to paradise
destined to be with God'
And when
formal mourning has ended
Hashem's door will open wide
to start the gift of healing
with the promise of a new day
where solace may begin

(Altered from version published in
Hamodia "readers write" 7/20/2011)

Cabrini Green Rewind

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Sometimes a ghetto gets under your skin
And has you revisiting it again and again
Beckoning you back to the 365 days a year that you slept and awoke
In Cabrini Green in a three bedroom apt located at 365 W. Oak
Taking you back to the day of your birth
When there was no silver spoon nor mirth
But what you did have was two brothers and one sister
You all had so much fun playing Monopoly and Twister
When you played outside you couldn't go any further than the ramp
In the summer and winter your mother signed you up for camp
And at night kids would get together in singing groups and improvise
They'd pretend to be the Supremes, Temptations, or the Jackson Five!
The buildings were somewhat better maintained
And most of the residents were in a much better frame—
of mind...
And that is why it is so easy to go back and rewind...


by Barbara Robinette
An August dawn and I walk into the misty yard
with corn for the squirrel feeder.  The near cry of the
pileated echoes wild a distant mate answers
from far within or beyond these woods as it has been
for centuries the fallen tree trunk dwindles yearly into
decaying leaves....the lone red wildflower startles me.
(Included in the author's book Sea Leafs By Moon)

Keeper of Secrets

by David LaRue Alexander
People bring their secrets to me.
I provide them a box,
I provide them a key.
Into the box their secrets go.
Secrets no one will ever know. 
I am the keeper of secrets. 
When you feel the need to share
those secrets you should never dare
to ever even think to say,
then to me you must find your way. 
Scoundrels, paupers, even Kings,
tell me such revealing things.
Like secrets from a tragic past,
or perhaps just guilt to lose at last. 
It doesn’t really matter to me,
for I practice confidentiality.
So my patrons have nothing to fear,
their precious secrets will never leave here. 
People bring their secrets to me.
I provide them a box,
I provide them a key.
Into the box their secrets go.
Secrets no one will ever know.

I am the keeper of secrets.

Between the Lines

by John E. Slota
If I were a letter,
I'd be uppercase E
'Cause I'd have more angles
Than D, C, or G!
I would always be right
At my 90 degrees.
And no never obtuse
Like an X, Y, or Z.
The 360's are Square
Do ya know what I mean?
O is the ringleader
C-U-S on his team.
W and M, well…
They're so topsy-turvy.
At times they'll go flip-flop
And really unnerve me!
A sure-footed letter
That is what I would be!
A good neighbor to F
Yes and even to D!


by Martha S. Moss

		Can you hear the sound of snowflakes falling?
		Can you measure the wetness of a single drop of rain?
		How do you determine the velocity of a fluttering butterfly?
		That's how it is with the power of love -

		When the day is cold and dreary
		and the daily news is only sad
		a phone call from loving child or friend
		with voices cheery
		helps one to remember to be glad.


		Let's have a conversation
		not to prove who's right or wrong
		but maybe to discover that life's a kind of song.
		On some days it's blues that define the tune
		or a lilting Viennese waltz - now and then
		we all need a bit of rhythmical schmaltz
		or maybe we prefer an oompah band - or in the mood
		for an aria dramatic
		whatever the rhythm or melody that pleases our ear.
		Remember it's the tone that makes the music
		it's not what we listen to but that which we hear.


		To some of us it's all in translation
		but inflexibility can lead to ossification
		there is a need for a kind of revelation
		to discover that change is the only constant,
		and flexibility is a kind of regeneration.

Kathy Jean

by John Pawlik
Oh Kathy Jean I dreamed
We were in a musical
We were done with high school
And bound to be grounded each
To another with whom neither
Of us was even comfortable
Linda who much later
After it was over went on
To become a world renowned
Professor of drama finally came
To understand I only loved you
And through a crowd of grads
Ran and helped me pin American flags
To their tall respective poles
There was a war
And I flew
Literally frantically swam
Limbs stroking as fast as I could
Through the damp thick summer air
And there you were
Fending off your fiancé in a car
Probably an Olds  And I tore off the door
And he disappeared
And we kissed and kissed and kissed
Our passionate kissing our intimate song
I couldn't let fear determine our lives
We were young
We were in love
That's how it was
Or should have been
The end

A stay on the Georgian Bay

by Mark Hudson
I went to Ohio for a vacation,
Canada was our next destination.
A family tradition, we went to Laconi's,
Not many people in my family are bony.
My cousins are Kyle, Danielle, and Carly,
Annie, Sean, Erin, and Charlie.
Those are the children of my two cousins
At Laconi's we ate, all of us about a dozen.
The next day my cousin had a brunch
We had breakfast instead of lunch
My cousin made a special oatmeal
She cooked it in a new kind of steel
Then for dinner potatoes and chicken
To the sides of my stomach twas sticking
Then we went to see two softball games
To see two of my cousins kids play
Both of my cousins were on teams that lost,
But I was proud to see they weren't crossed.
The next day we had a cookout
And for guests arriving, we were on the lookout.
We had some steaks, and cole slaw
Apricot desert put right in the jaw.
Today we are on the road to Ontario,
I'll tell you more about the scenario.
We drive by the Mad river into town
We are Collingwood bound
We'll be staying on the Georgian bay
Its 3:00 we've almost found our way
The next day we venture into town
A parking meter brings a frown
I ask people if they have change
for a 2 dollar coin it sounds strange
Then I watch a blues musician play
An old lady sits with a winter coat on a hot day
She says, "Can you play any cowboy tunes?"
And he says, "No, we're playing the blues,"
Then we go to the water, by the bay
Where a man has a saxaphone he plays
Then into the swimming pool we swim fast
But a thermometeor is missing, we might step on glass
So the day ends tomorrow is another
Sitting at home with my father and mother
The next day we go to the blue mountains
A place that doesn't have water fountains
Streams of water as pure as the air
Hiking and going through caves do we dare
My parents in their 70s are able to climb
I touch a rock that is covered with slime
The blue mountains are places for skiing
In the summer it is for sight-seeing
Back home, my legs are sore
I want to go out and do some more
The next day we go on a boat cruise
Seagulls beg for food to chew
The captain is the narrator of the ride
It's hot on the roof, I stay inside
Then it gets windy and chilly
I go back in the sun which is silly
I'm already lobster red
Tonight I might be itching in my bed
We're in Canada with William and Kate
The royal couple has picked the same date
To visit Canada they depart today
And tomorrow we'll leave the Georgian Bay
We'll be headed to Michigan then Illinois
This was a trip I really did enjoy
The Canadians are friendly, I'd sure come back
But tomorrow I go to see Uncle Jack
I'm looking forward to returning too
But Canada is a place with things to do
I'm, grateful for this summer vacation
It took quite a bit of perspiration!

Sitting on a Stump on a Cross-Country Ski Trail in July

by Wilda Morris
The sun, still bright, slips
toward the western horizon.
I perch on a stump.
Sparrows twitter above my head.
Somewhere a woodpecker taps,
taps into a hollow trunk.
A bright yellow butterfly flitters
from green leaf to green leaf.
My eyes turn toward a snap, snap,
expecting a squirrel. Twin fawns
nibble on a thin branch. Two large eyes,
then four, stare into my face.
The tawny fawns come closer, their mouths
chewing, chomping. If I stretch out my hand
I could touch a moist nose. I try not
to breathe as they gnaw more leaves
from the underbrush. For three minutes
we share this piece of green woods
until the doe comes scolding, trumpeting.
Like my mother. Like me.
Like my daughters with their young.

(Published in Avocet, XIV:4, Summer 2011), p. 29.

A Closed Door

by Chris Holaves
An ended friendship is a gray closed door
That's harder to open as time goes by
For spiders weave webs from top to floor
And dust settles in cracks to solidify

The termination of this passage way
Friends once used to commune with each other.
Now it has ceased to be and turned to gray—
A useless wood piece, a patch they don't bother

Until disaster forces them to try
Opening this warped and cracked old portal.
But when one clutches the handle to pry
The door ajar, webs and dust hint life is mortal,

For a friendship dies when it's not mutually tended,
And a door jams shut when not used or mended.

(First published by The Rockford Review, 2006.)

A Furnished Attic

by Marguerite McClelland
What if it's true
that the hormone dive 
at fifty
is the programmed beginning
of the end,
and I should be fooled
by a surge of energy
into performing great deeds?

all this energy
would be expended,
and I would be left
with a piece of life
contradicting the TRUTH !


by Shirley Anne Leonard
On our left a nation falls,
and on our right, a bomb.
Everywhere — a deep unrest
beneath the surface calm.

All the world — a movie scene
we watch and are appalled,
so in the realm of mind and heart
we have put up a wall,
convenient to the daily walk
but numbing to the soul.

Ahead — the doubtful future waits.
Behind — the ghostly tattered past
leans on time's relentless tread
carrying her weight of dread.

We walk — a nation half asleep
and turning in our beds.

(Won Poets and Patrons Chicagoland
2004 Contest, 2nd Place Honorable
Mention — Social Conscience Category)


by Bonnie Manion
It must be law or politics making you so animated
as you converse with an old friend, leaning casually
against the gleaming buffet bearing its load of hors
d'oeuvres, your lanky form slim as ever, trousers
draping elegantly. Can't help but admire your profile,
modestly jutting chin and aquiline nose surrounded
by the fuller face of late middle age. Now, thinning
dun-colored hair softens your freckled leathery face,
more handsome than ever,

than in our youth when I was unabashedly hungry
for your lean body, when we spent many a Sunday
afternoon making slow sweet love on the coverlet
of the double bed in our tiny Chicago apartment.
When you couldn't get enough of loving me. My

desire has slowed to admiration, but I wonder
if you can still see your nineteen-year-old bride,
silk billowing from a waist you could encircle
with your own hands, the gold of my hair glinting
in your marine-blue eyes, me thinking, I'm yours
at last, all yours. Yours to this day.

(First published in a similar version by Bellowing Ark;
another version won Third Place, Serious Poetry at the
St. David's Christian Writers Conference, 2009 contest;
also, Semi-finalist, 2010 New Millennium Writings contest)

Silence inside a Shell

by Mardelle Fortier
I curl up inside my oyster shell, in silver satin peace,
in shadows where the deepest longing lies in shimmers...
Vast silences multiply, like those of outer space
and memories walk unarmed and ghostly pale.
I can be anybody; nobody disputes my right.
Prayers float moth-like in this quiet
and eat holes in my doubts.
Wounds heal in dark, in stillness of opal fire.
When I touch my body, I know
my soul has turned into a pearl.

(From Time of Singing, Spring 2011)

The Cry of Everything

by Alan Harris
Where the crow twitters
and the bluebird cackles,
there is the cry of everything.

Bees moo and ducks roar;
horses croak and rocks snore.

The cry of everything, yes all of all,
fills creation and non-creation
with the delectable din
of a monstrous pin

Screen nothing out;
mute nothing.
All is here but for an eternal moment,
a timeless flicker of the sun.

And when the cry of everything dies out—
well, won't that be grand too?

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