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Poems by ISPS Members
August 2014
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Poems on this Page:

Timeless Capsule

by William Marr
                     —for Nancy Jean Carrigan
after blotting out the last star
from the dark sky
she cast aside her paint brush
and walked away
without glancing back

knowing full well
the best memories of her life
have been safely stored
in her poetry her painting her sculpture
as well as the loving hearts of her family and friends

timeless capsule


by Michael Escoubas
Sand Dollars:
we love you.
You ocean-dwellers
we know as Sea Cookies,
Snapper Biscuits, and Pansy Shells.
You exist in secret,
silent, serenity
dressed in Picasso's
pallet of colors.

You feature
calcium carbonate plates
in radial patterns
of green and blue,
violet and purple.

You would be
undersea rainbows
if sunrays
to such deep regions.

Instead, you scuttle
over sea-beds
your beauty a secret
from happy children
with pails and shovels
who find your spines
bleached white
by the sun
and call to their
parents, "Look, 
how beautiful!"


by James Reiss
Went out & scissored a lily, brought her inside
to study her fuzzy brown anthers loaded 

with pollen, her needle-thin pistil & filaments 
down to her ovary. Noted her sepals 

were dotted with droplets; her waxy gold petals
were stippled with pigment, the comeliest rust spots,

like freckles on the face of a tomboy agog
in a tree house at twilight. Saw how, twice dappled

with drizzle & beauty marks, she tilted a bit in her vase
toward my pencil as if she could lift it to write

& tell me the checkered tall story of all things in bloom.
Saw two of her petals were nibbled—by a rabbit? a fawn?

Wrote how she told me she loathed the incessant devouring
mouths which would strip her & call her a woman.

Binary Stars

by Jill Angel Langlois
Like binary stars
We circle around ourselves
Never touching
Yet caught up in our energy fields
Once attracted to one another's atmospheres
Now only caught in a grueling orbit
Day after day
Night after night
Passing each other
Never connecting

Sun rises, sun sets
Moon rises, moon sets
We are caught
Trapped in a perverted joke of a life
A path forever destined
No change
No free will
I around you
You around me
An eternity of entrapment

Release me 
And I will plunge
Where gravity takes me
Another non-choice for me
I'll blow where the atmosphere sends me
Anywhere but here forever

Yet, I influence you
To influence me
To influence you
Turning around to greet me
I think I see a glimmer
In your eye
The familiarity is, at least, warming
A constant cycle of stability
A routine to count on
Expectations satisfied

I think I'll try to remember
To wave next year
When we pass in the night
I hope I'll be able to see you
Through all this atmospheric dust
Our predicted lives tend to stir up

We Played Gin Rummy

by Barbara Robinette
for money
every spring Saturday
afternoon until three 
or until you grew too tired.

I won the set.  You cheerfully
paid your eight dollars owed.
In July, we buried you.

I kept the eight dollars alone
in a box in my room
until I was forty-two and

thinking of you, I purchased your
posthumous present.

Every morning I sip warm
coffee in your presence.

(Previously published in 2013 in
the Poets Roundtable of Arkansas
Eightieth Anniversary Anthology)


by Gail Denham
bright soggy carpet
lonely naked branches watch
rakes steal their glory

Fiddle Lesson

by Patty Dickson Pieczka
A double-stop while turning
the rosewood E peg sends the train
whistle into the distance.
Your love fades with it, leaving
you behind. This is not your time.

A long moan unscrolls 
from lower registers of sorrow,
echoes through the garden of stones
where trees hold shadows 
in their empty arms. 

Increase the metronomic tempo 
so your up-bow rends the air 
with each stroke, shreds the fog 
of grief until lemon-gold light 
streams over the spruce.

Let your down-bow spill colors 
of mountain wildflowers, jewelweed 
and dewberry drifting to your feet 
as you pull your life back
through this hollow piece of wood.

Good Advice

by David McKenna
I would rather wade
naked    through slop
slimy    with leeches 
than be with you

if you died
with me at your side 
all the faith I could muster
couldn't keep me
from sliding
into the pit
right along with you

you suck

if I were you
I wouldn't hang around any one place 
too long

someone with sense
gets to know you
as you really are

and you're dead


by Phillip Egelston
She thinks of the fragrant truffles,
that grew beneath an oak,
bathed in a champagne sauce
beside the artichoke.
The hors d'oeuvres, a fine paté,
were grace for any coup,
but this feast fit for royalty
was no feast at seventy-two.  
She tastes a spoonful of trifle and takes
a bite of the cake.  Soon
she'll find a bottle of sherry
and spend the night awake.
The years that have piled upon her
now hang heavy and loose.
She has friends who've wined and dined her
and the rest of her life to lose.

The Prince and the Elf

by Curt Vevang
The young prince liked games, the story begins.
	He would play for hours with all of his friends.

Big friends, little friends, and none were the same.
	One friend was an elf and Bruce was his name.

I have a problem, he told his friend Bruce.  
	When I run real fast my shoes get too loose.

Bruce gave him some gum to stick in his shoe.
	This gooey green gum is just right for you. 

The prince took the gum and stuck it inside.
	But then he found out his shoes were too wide.

A hotdog, said Bruce, will take up the slack.
	Wow! you're so clever, the prince answered back.

Bruce said, it's perfect, it's just the right size.
	The prince was impressed his friend was so wise.

Then Bruce carried on, just do as I say
	your shoes will fit fine, you can play all day.

But, the prince thought as he stared at his shoe,
	does Bruce really know much more than I do? 

How 'bout in the park when I'm playing ball?
	The mustard might squish and then I might fall.

And it could be worse if it starts to rain,
	the prince now began to use his young brain.

Perhaps my friend Bruce is not a smart elf.
	Maybe it's better to think for myself.

Instead of green gum and a hotdog too,
	I think what I need is a smaller shoe.

He told his mother and she was so proud.
	She summoned her court and announced out loud.

My young child the prince is ready to reign,
	because he's begun to think with his brain.

Today he has learned a lesson so true:
	To think for yourself is what you should do.

(First published in the children's picture book,
	The Prince and the Elf,

July with Nana

by Susan B. Auld
A red cut-glass bowl filled with sticky 
licorice sits on Nana's doily covered coffee table.  

Don't touch!
Only one piece!

She lived in a dark house with a blind man.
Damask curtains suffocated the lace

that failed to flutter through windows
held open with a piece of worn wood.

In her print house dress, slide-on slippers, a damp
embroidered handkerchief stuffed into her brassiere

she shuffled from kitchen to living room scolding Papa in Yiddish,
soothing him with cold borscht and sour cream.

My sister still blames her for something she didn't do
and something she didn't say years ago.

She forgets how we dressed up, like little girls do, 
in open-toed high heels, fur stoles, 

draped with strings of pearls and crystal beads, 
our lips and cheeks tinged red with rouge,

how we listened behind closed doors
to conversations we weren't meant to understand, 

journeyed into the lives of aunts and uncles and cousins
around a carved mahogany dining room table.

We brought light into dark rooms.
She forgets the light we found in dark corners.

Her First Night's Love?

by Gus Wilhelmy
How much would woeful worry choke her heart? 
Loving-- then crossing  fingers hoping
And praying inside—fearing  each next hour.

Had boy-on-girl love enwrapped her dream 
In real--- or would she just await a lover's scorn 
And anger to blame her loose and wanton ways?

Had curtains lifted where she had staged her skit
With love—but without a plot--without a score?

At first, the play re-played glowing  memories:
		A night
		A boy 
		A kiss
		A lip lock
		A fastened tongue
		A breast
		A lay 
		A magic moment's clasp.

But memories soon had turned to dark within:
		An aching heart,
		After shame,
		Bolted hopes,
		A sour taste, 
		A messy dress.

Her car alone drove that night:
		No encore--
		No boy around--
		No sweet after kiss--
		No clutching each the other!

At home, she buried empty hope and placed
Her evening rose in waterless despair 
That vase now held for her drooping soul.

And she recalled upon a pillow hollow
What could have been that was before.
But now no more!   For all the music's dead! 

Frozen Thoughts

by Pamela D. Hirte
My soul longs to fly south like the birds of summer
and steal away from snow showered days.
Cast off this winter coat of memories,
this cocoon smothers like a white walled prison.

I see clearly now in fresh fallen powder,
the whiteout has awakened my spirit. 
Bound by the blizzard of yesterday,
I need to break free to balmy days.

Gather my thoughts into a snow globe,
capture these cold cognitions.
Leave on a sill for a sunbathed stay—
shake when I want to recall the chill.

My thoughts frozen perfectly in time
safely in a crystal orb,
time to leave this polar place behind.
My soul longs to fly south like the birds of summer.

Body Tuning

by Gail Goepfert
~for Joel Shepperd
He nods to me in the waiting room,  
precedes me down the hall, 
his blue doctor coat flaps.
I follow the pad of his moccasins, 
sit across from him eye to eye
at his tidy desk, peer into serious glasses, 
a face haloed 
with salted hair and beard.  
A homeopathic MD.

I'm here, I told him, because someone 
I met said you saved her life.

I learn the routine, tell how I've been—
headaches, digestion, emotions, pain. 
Any detail that might help him decide 
what remedy might heal.  He observes me, 
probes to learn more.  I've wondered
what he thinks of what I say, why it matters 
if I prefer hot drinks to cold 
or what I crave (always sugar).  Is the pain 
more left-sided or right. 
Would I be comforted when sick 
by having someone with me 
or prefer to be left alone.  Am I better in the sun.  
Do I sleep without covers.  Want a fan 
on my face. Am I thrifty, extravagant,
do I fear falling or ghosts.

I ask about the science, 
about the stuff of remedies,
three thousand or more,  
one part remedy in a trillion parts of water.
Tinctures made, diluted and shaken
from plants, animals, minerals.
Who would guess—
Cat's milk.  Salt.
Black widow spider.  
Plutonium.  Decomposition 
of chopped lean beef.
Copper, tin, the honey bee.
Granite, graphite, rose quartz.
The Spanish fly and oyster shells.
Deer antler velvet, mountain daisies, 
feathers of a European finch, castor oil.
Arsenic.  Arborvitae. Tea.

Stories lie behind each—rhus tox 
from poison ivy when joints
act like rusty gates, 
aurum metallicum when light's gold 
is gone from the world, sepia, 
for when one wants to keep people away 
like the cuttlefish that shoots out ink 
to ward off danger, 
and lachesis, from the venom 
of the bushmaster snake that bites 
without warning, 
when one needs the blood to flow.

I keep going back.  Once a month or so.
Since 1996.  It works.  
I go with it, this tuning.

It's about finding the right potency.  
A search for the body's right vibration.
Playing music on water glasses.
My body—a glass harp
tapped and tuned 
until it sings.

(Published in Homeopathy Today, Spring 2014)

play by play

by Steven Kappes
I'm trying out my
weather alert radio
going through the channels
when out of
the static and buzz
comes the play by play
of a baseball game
crowd roar a solid
background noise
and I am carried back
to the days of my youth
in high school
listening to the
world series in the fall
afternoon weekday games
a bunch of the guys
hunkered around the radio
trying to catch each play
as it was described
picturing in our minds
the rise of the ball
into center field
the slow slow fall
as the outfielder
raced out for the catch
when television
was a sometimes thing
and the radio
was plugged into the wall
when everyone
wasn't connected
and the thrill of listening
was almost as good
as being there


by Ina Perlmuter
The major
began his speech 
praising his troops
for their compassion
encountering innocents
savagely maimed
and raped and killed
Yes, I was there he said
to comfort those in pain
and hear their final sigh
I wanted you families to know
how your sons and daughters lived
and also how they died
He ended his speech
war isn't only about
how many are killed  
How Many Lives Are Saved

I Just Wish You'd

by Candace Armstrong
Stand up for me
with spit and vinegar
like you'd do for yourself.

But, you turned to
trivia talk
after the brut
pommeled me down,
spilled beer on me,
smirked, laughed and left.

My Echo, Myself

by Beth Staas
The rusted radiator clangs like garbage can drums in the barrio. 
Kitchen chairs upholstered in plastic lean under the table, legs akimbo.
I cook dinner concocted from nothing, and pray there's some left for tomorrow.
Downstairs, she sits on an orange-crate chair of provincial pretense,
serving make-believe guests out of paper cups crayoned in Wedgwood blue.

My makeshift desk is littered with bills so I flip a coin,
having learned the gymnastics of cascading credit, grieving each dollar's farewell.
She's perched beside me, surrounded with scrips and scraps, scissors and paste,
laying out a collage on the rump of discarded mail,
a slivered eyebrow, a jack-o-lantern mouth, and hair of frayed wrappings.  
It will join the others as a mural of sorts, her homemade Madonna of joy.

At night, sirens howl like banshees, demanding their share of disaster. 
Baritone rumblings dance an ecstasy of love or brutality over my bed
and I clutch at my knees, fighting the rush of remembrance.
Early risers hawk their wares, playing a marimba on the window bars, 
while she emerges in a rhapsody to sing a song of exaltation.

Motherhood was a shove through untested ice and I kept moving so as not to die,
foraging, then adapting like a shark in my sandpapered skin. 
She is trying out life like a dolphin at play, savoring each morsel of bliss, 
and I am loathe to tell her otherwise, for it would break her heart, and mine.


by Marcia Pradzinski
                        ~after Nancy Willard
When the last shadow falls from day
and the sun turns into the moon,
nothing is gone but the noise
crowds carry away in their trucks
children dream of in their sleep
and mothers silence with whispers.

When dusk dreams of sun 
as it drifts into sleep,
the present becomes the past 
and one day slips out of the shoe of another.

(Published in Brevity Poetry Review, Fall 2012)

Only because

by Donna Pucciani
it's the longest day
I write a poem, uninspired
by the long drought, the cracked earth, 
the drooping hydrangeas, the parade 
of black ants I've never seen before
crossing the front steps, the yellow
grass crisp underfoot, the sparrows
bathing in dust, flailing their wings.

At night the Dipper is empty,
holding nothing but a void
of stars. I await rain
from this most unlikely source, 
imagining it tip and pour, 
drenching the evening sky.

Matter rearranges itself,
readying for tomorrow's storm,
forecast in red. Startled by thunder,
I drink the last electric years
from my cupped hands,

watch the moon's effervescence
turn my flesh to ash 
in the first tentative drops.
From this moment, the days
will be foreshortened, 
heading toward snow
and the still-beating of wings.

(First published in Acumen)

Portrait of Tennessee Walking Horse

by Mary Jo Balistreri
I study your large head, your mane silvered
with age. In your warm brown eyes, time
dissolves as I reach back beyond the accident,
and you become breath of sun-scorched hay,
nuzzle against my arm, lick of tongue on my hand.
You lip apple wedges from my palm, and I listen
to the chew and crunch. I meet your steady gaze
on my face like a small thank you between us.
Standing now before you, in silence,
the canter of hooves across the vast and varied
terrain fills my body with animal energy, the power
you hold within, the gentleness it belies.
Your coat carries the arc and blur of summer,
the scent of clover wafts around you,
and I am returned to earthly abundance
re-learning all that was lost in the fall.

The Tale of Polly Poplin

by Kathleen Murphy
Polly Poplin was a very bad child,
Day and night little Polly ran wild.
She drank her grandma's whiskey and she smoked her grandpa's pipe,
And there wasn't any item that Polly wouldn't swipe.
She put frogs in the stewpot and snakes in the laundry,
And left her family in a great big quandary.

I blame Polly's mother for her being so bad,
Her mother ran off with a Shropshire lad.
Her father was too busy to tell Polly what to do,
He had a job raising tigers for the zoo.
He loved the pretty tigers and he worked very hard
And the tigers were in cages right out in the yard.

One dark and stormy night the wind was high
And the thunder and lightning crackled in the sky,
It was the kind of night that fills one with dread,
And suddenly a Goblin stood right by Polly's bed!
He was nasty and dirty and he smelled like rotten cheese
And his horrible hat was all covered with fleas,
And he said to Polly, "You must come along
To a terrible place for children who do wrong."

Was Polly Poplin fazed?  Oh, no, not a whit.
She said, "I'll get my coat and be with you in a bit.
But before I do that, I cannot tell a lie,
There's a much worse child than me nearby,
And I'm sure you're a fine upstanding Goblin in your sphere,
And would rather take a badder child, if she were here."

The Goblin said, "Thank you, for you're very kind."
And Polly said, "Then come this way, if you don't mind."
They went out in the black night where the storm still rages
And Polly took him straight to the tiger cages.
"We're here now, Mr. Goblin, just open that door."
The Goblin did it, and was seen no more!
Yes, the tiger ate him up with one big slurp,
Then settled back down with a satisfied burp,
And wiped his whiskers in the manner of a cat,
And spat out the Goblin's horrible hat.

And here is the moral, if you're a nasty Goblin,
Don't mess around with Polly Poplin!

Grandma Rinehart's Apron

by Marie Samuel
Who can recall those long gone days of old
When neighbors "hung out" while hanging clothes?
And aprons worn while chickens fed, gardening chores, eggs we fetched.
A day to clean, to bake, to mend, to iron with aprons so necessary.

For an apron as cover could wipe the dust and spills or erase the tears.
An apron hung, to market or church we would run in clothes cleanly worn.
At night, with kids along to nearby homes, a hostess wore her fancy one.
We might be carried home, so tired yet glad we did not miss the fun.

The sounds of trucks nightly on our highway and the bed so soft
With Granma Riney, apron hung til morn, in her flannel nightie
Dawn found her rustling around the house, not quite dressed
But aproned later, she met the chores with cheer and little fuss.

Those were the days of old when life was sure to thank most of us 
And so much hopefulness. Now we seem to need some ways to hold
The household strong, with news so grim, our challenges many.
Perhaps I'll just sit a spell and then find my apron tent to be a comfort.

Hell Won't Hold Me and Heaven Can't Keep Me Out

by Farouk Masud
(Part 1)
The tortures of Hell don't compare
   To the pain I feel inside;
A loneliness, guilt and despair
   That I've felt since the day I died.

But I know I deserve this fate
   'Cause of my bad decisions in life;
I no longer have the patience to wait,
   To return to my beloved wife.

But I'm down here and she's up there—
   How am I supposed to reach above?
I'll find a way out—I don't care!—
   I'll fly away like a dove.

I decided to make some wings
   (Don't think of a dove, think of a bat);
Hellish mockery echoes and rings,
   Denizens chant:  "You can't fly with that!"

"Farouk, you must be crazy, mad,"
   Is what Satan said to me.
I said, "Don't worry my ugly lad,
   It'll work, just wait and see."

Up!—Up!—And away I flew!—
  Above Satan, sinner and all;
Fire and brimstone—at me they threw!
   "Curse you Farouk!  We hope you fall!"

A bat out of Hell (I truly am)—
   I said goodbye to The Abyss;
But before I left and made my scram,
   I flipped them off and blew them a kiss.

Farther and further up I went
   Until the pearly gate I saw;
Heaven was amazed at what's been sent,
   Glaring and staring in awe.

They said:  "Farouk, you're not welcome here,
   Go back whence you came."
"I've come only to see my dear,
   I can't go back to The Flame."

They slammed the gate in face,
   I walked away in tears,
Humiliation and disgrace—
   It was more than my worst fears.

I said to myself:  "I won't go away
   Or be so easily denied
On this sullen and most trying day—
   I'm not leaving but with my bride!"

I stormed back and broke the gate
   Like a wild, maniacal beast,
Dodging sentries at a speedy rate—
   Like a bullet, to say the least.

High and low, near and far—
   I searched to no avail,
Until I saw a blazing star 
   At the end of a lengthy trail.

Behold!—A most surreal chateau
   Sitting on a mountaintop:
Shiny silver and white like snow— 
   A sight that made my jaw drop.

I figured:  "This must be it!  
   Where else would my love reside?"
I dashed ahead with guts and grit,
   Bolting up the mountainside.

"Catch him!"  I heard them yell,
   The sentries were hot on my heel;
Maybe thousands, I couldn't tell,
   I ran with new zest and zeal.

Reaching the top, I hesitated,
   Wondering:  "Ok, now what's in store?
What if my luck is ill-fated?—
   Screw it!"  I knocked on the door.

From the Wings

by Marguerite McClelland
He has interrupted nature with dead-end streets,
and hides from beast and God
in towers of steel and concrete;
he moves swiftly
in domes of tin and glass,
escaping yesterday.

But from a higher view,
the meadows are laced with unending ribbons of gray 
and his fine patchwork
of alternating yellows and greens 
make a banner to the labor of his hands. 
The clearing on the mountainside,
the vessels on the stream,
the towns huddled around the steeples
do not offend Nature.

He has dotted the valleys with roofs of slate, 
and here and there
the smoke from a chimney
gives him away.
He travels lazily
down the rivers and roads,
embracing Time.
These too are God's creation,
and from the wings
interior to his scheme. 

The Garden of I Am Who I Am

by Rick Sadler
Let  my  mind  take  you  to  a  garden  so  very  lovely
In  Southern  Illinois  that  I  think  of  so  very  highly,
God  must  of  had  a  green  thumb  in his  affection
In  creating  such  a  splendid  place  of  his  perfection,
The  highest  peak  in  Southern  Illinois  is  Bald  Knob
Mountain  near  Palo  Alto  that  makes  my  heart  throb,
There's  a  huge  white  cross  for  Easter  morning  sunrise
Little  brother  and  I  played  in  the  Ohio  river  that  poetize,
My  memories  of  Camel  Rock  at  Shawnee  National  Forest
And  all  it's  beautiful  lakes, rivers  a  really  fine  place  to  rest,
I've  always  been  mystified  by  the  Wabash  river's  strange
Way  of  winding  through  the  country  side  down  it's  range,
To  empty  into  the  Ohio  river  I'd  like  to  selfie  that  fine  scene
The  rich  black  soil  is  worth  more  than  all  the  gold  ever  seen,
Oh  how  long  it's  been  since  I  have  heard  the  night  sound
Of  the  Whippoorwills  in  nocturnal  distance  I'm  so  spellbound,
In  the  day  light  you  can  hear  the  sound  of  the  little  Bobwhite
And  smell  the  Honey  suckle  along  the  fence  row  was  so  polite,
While  the  tantalizing  sweet  aroma  of  the  fresh  cut  Alfalfa  Hay
While  surviving  is  the  Red  Bird  and  the  Robin  always  stay,
Driving  down  a  gravel  country  road  in  front  of  a  trail  of  dust
I  saw  an  old  John  Deere  tractor  sitting  by  a barn  turning to  rust,
I  hear  a  sound  like  wind  blowing  through  the  Hickory  trees  where
Dad  and  I  use  to  pick  up  Hickory  Nuts  off  the  ground  as  I  share
The  beauty  of  the  Autumn  are  many  colors  of  the  season  there,
This  is  Southern  Illinois  that  inspires  my  life  from  which  I  grew  up
I  love  to  imagine  the  Virgin Mary  walking  over  Crab  Orchard  Lake
Mary  brings  the  peace  of  the  morning  on  Gold  Hill's  morning  dew
The  waterfalls  at  Karber's  Ridge  looks  like  a  lovely  maiden's  woo,
The  rocks  and  stones  above  the cliff  forms  her  face  on  top  of  the  ridge
As  the  waterfalls  looks  like  her  long  beautiful  flowing  hair's  prestige,
Her  face  is pointing  up  to  the  sky  as  if  sleeping  in  this  garden  of  Mother
Nature  where  the  Angels  fly  and  swirl  like  auras  are  the  Fire  Flies  cover,
A  ocean  of  corn  and  soybean  fields  dotted  with  small  towns  the  easy  life
I  left  you  Southern  Illinois  but  I  did  not  forget  you  in  my  life's  strife,
A  fine  red  tic  dog  named  Copper  whome  we  loved  I'd  say  yup
She  was  so  little  when  we  got  her  I  watched  he  grow  up  from  a  pup,
To  remember  the  smell   of  the  fish  markets  floating  as  anchord  by
The  banks  of  the  Mississippi  river  my  vision  in  the  lovely  blue  sky

I Cast a Poem into the Air

by Jim Lambert
I cast a poem into the air.
It floated around from here to there.
It rained on parades and cast despair
on gentlemen lost and ladies fair.
It floated on without a care
and asked the public if they would dare.
Although folks added a certain flair
they still had on their underwear.
"Take them off," it began to blare.
"To tell the truth, one must be bare.
So I leave now, and this I share—
Enjoy your steaks, but don't eat rare."
Twas then it landed on my chair,
so I wiped its nose and combed its hair.

Torrential Talk

by Kathy Cotton
I stand bone-soaked
in a sudden word storm,
pelted by torrents
of dark thunderous talk
whirling from every
direction. Mouths roar,
tongues spit bolts of lightning,
thirty-mile-an-hour breath
hammers my back.

Then you invite me to step
into the quiet shelter
of your blue umbrella eyes.

A patch of pale sky
opens unexpectedly
beyond the indigo downpour.

The Message

by Chris Holaves
Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.
                                                             Prov 16:31 (NRSVB)

The autumn's end begins the savage cold
With chills that pierce the body to the bone.
It freezes flesh to click jaw teeth to moan
And gnaw in code the message once foretold:
The summer's sun with warmth and light makes bold 
The youthful heart to flutter like a drone
To carefree sow forgetting what is sown
Till autumn frosts geraniums to fold.

Then hummingbird hearts hover to recall
There is a reason for each life to mend
The nectar-gathering, grasshopper ways.
So soon the winter's blizzard drifts to wall
The soul in death where darkness has no end
Except by faith and works from younger days.


by David LaRue Alexander
If might makes right, why fight at all.
Constantly battling, with your back against the wall.
They have the numbers, you'll eventually fall.
But then....
They don't comprehend why you must stand tall,
nor understand where you get the gall.
But you do....
Because you have to answer, to a higher call.

Oregon State Mental Hospital

by Mark Hudson
A friend told of a time playing chess,
where they filmed "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest."
At Oregon state mental hospital,
he did the impossible,
he might've beaten the best!

When they filmed the nest movie,
the real patients were shy.
No movie about their lives,
time passed them by.
Someone jumped from a window,
I guess they wanted to die.
Either that, or maybe other;
they were trying to fly!

500 patients were poisoned,
at Oregon State Hospital,
November 18, 1942.
The scrambled eggs were bad,
The cooks were responsible,
47 people died, too.

It turned out to be cockroach poison,
that brought the fatal disease.
Only the chefs knew about it,
they were the only ones with keys.
The cooks were charged with murder,
the mentally ill man who helped
bring the rat poison from the cellar
got killed in a fight and fell.

It is said great poetry and art,
comes from the mentally ill heart.
But that's the ones we hear about,
The rest leave you in doubt.
Load them up on Thorazine,
Maybe they'll put together a magazine.
Put them in balls and chains,
maybe they won't go insane.
Give them therapy, an electric shock,
so they sit there and just rock.
Not everything has been done under the sun,
The insane can still have a victory won.
No voice is too big or too small,
even if you take lithium or Hal-dol.
Pretty soon they'll be the majority,
no longer will they be treated with inferiority!
Not all of them are going to get violent,
but from now on, they're not going to be silent!

Road Trip

by Susan T. Moss
Three hours down the highway
between St. Paul and Chicago
my life's songs begin to sing
on the radio.

"Chances Are" to "Hound Dog,"
the miles slip into years
while Wisconsin bison stand
in snowy corn stubble

and another station advises
women to be good role models
for their daughters who should
learn to treat their husbands right –
a donation of fourteen dollars
will buy a book on how to create
domestic harmony,

which brings me back to the oldies
station and the soundtrack of my youth
speaking in Father Knows Best Voices,
saccharine with myth and promises.

Farms fade into prefab houses
spreading like buckthorn
over rolling prairie, and there's
that song "Country Roads,"
but that's West Virginia not the Midwest
F. Scott Fitzgerald tried to forget.

A store offering naughty novelties
begins the end of radio signals
tracing my way home.

summer afternoon

by Carol Dooley
I sit reading
faint buzz
hummingbird hovers
my red rubber shoe

Black Butterfly

by Undra' Ware Sr.
We as the black butterfly must teach our generations about the
struggle for freedom we surpass. Not only for the past
generations but for the present and future as well.

The children must know it was our dreams that cultivated our
faith and brought us through desolation. Now that we are free
teach the children to move forward, to be seen and be heard.

We as God's children have the light; just open our minds and
eyes because we are close to glory.

So let us all remember that whenever we need it, we can always
go back and read it for God is with us forever more.

Midsummer Triolet

by Gary Ketchum
Summer sounds saturate the air.

Cicadas sing their sonic songs.

Kids frolic, shrieking screams their fare.

Summer sounds saturate the air.

Grown-ups guffaw, gibe, joke and swear,

Lawn mowers blare 'mongst gathered throngs.

Summer sounds saturate the air.

Cicadas sing their sonic songs.

History of Chicago: We Meet Historically

by Ivan Petryshyn
We meet historically
To engrave
The day
Into the canvass of Time and Space
In their race 
To be free and independent
To the will of those
Who took their trains
Into the direction of Eternity
Cementing the fraternity
Of the unions and pacts
That were their lives
And, now, are only the facts
Of the Having-Beens
That are seen
By our eyes,
And we are surprised,
How wise
Were those in the Preterit,
How wise we are to enjoy that wisdom
To be proud to say:
"when it comes to innovation,
Chicago leads the Nation!"


by Bonnie Manion
flooring, though manmade,
attempts to replicate nature,
the complexity of aged stone,
an indelible strength built
into the heart of it that seems
like virtue when it will be
struck by many feet, and
from which one can easily 
clear away the debris that
brushes with humanity
will inevitably bring.

Myriad bits of mosaic fall
into random patterns, make 
a tough support from within 
its once-molten core under
years of traffic and toil, also
the wear and tear of going 
unnoticed while a workhorse

At its heart, lowly terrazo is
relegated by society to an
imagined imitation of the real
thing. Lost is any singularity, 
originality, or even creativity 
(and concomitant appreciation) 
when indestructibleness is
the only desired result.

The Ghost of Benedictine Hall

by Mardelle Fortier
Who has dared to disturb my silent
walk through these rooms?
For a hundred years I have made
my reverent pilgrimage.
Do you think
to hold in the past with a wrecking ball?
I am the ghost of Benedictine Hall.

A century has turned since Jaeger
laid the cornerstone. They and their
generation have turned to dust.
How many men have entered under
"God, Church, and Country?"
Who now prays in Sisters' Chapel?
Do the Kitchen Sisters yet cook?
Are there still experiments in Bugs Lab?
And who shall carve the turkey this
Christmas laboring to come?
Strange, I hear no conversation in Scholars' Lounge.

Floating through the 4th floor attic
I seem to hear the strains of a tune.
And look, the Sisters are climbing solemnly
the steps to 2nd floor, to Sisters' Chapel.

The students who have passed
through the corridors and ascended
the quaint stairs, I know them all:
doctors, lawyers, priests, monks;
men and women who shall carry with them
the memory of this do I.

The cornerstone was moved from Ben Hall
to Kindlon, but the cornerstone
which is Christ is from Alpha
to Omega. His watch—eternal.

I am the ghost of Benedictine Hall.
Who am I, ye inquire so?
When all mysteries are revealed,
then, then shall you know.

(Published in The Candor,
Benedictine University, 9/14/2004)


by Alan Harris
I spot a one.
He changes lanes abruptly
right in front of me, no signal.
My teeth clench.
He is number one in his machismo,
and I a separate one in irritation.

Another one is following my car
close enough to fill my mirror.
I want to slow down
and teach him a lesson,
but instead I simmer along
as one trapped.

I notice my cozy tailgater is flying
an American flag above his window,
loyal in some kind of patriotism,
separate in some kind of jingoism,
and I explore my intolerance.

By "ones" I mean sequestered minds,
"me" people in a universe of "not me."
Ones will celebrate their personal glory
then perish into their self-created void.
Ones will say we go around just once,
done, with no later come-arounds,
so that when the gustoed body quits,
the mind joins Big Zero forever.

Why don't I think the same as that?
With not one proof that holds a drop,
I see a future human state
unhindered by me-centric rivalries.

Birthing time and time again,
evolving life by life eternally,
it seems to me we'll someday
give up being ones, and enter
fully the community of Unity
where competition isn't.

Though now I seem a one
to any other one,
as the other one, for now,
may seem a one to me,
I hear an inner-speaking
Spirit say that all of us
are one with Utmost One
and separated mainly by
our walled-off minds and
pretty bags of bones.

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