Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
October 2006
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She did

by Mariana Al.Far
She found you hiding
Under a blanket of pain
Life stabbing you
Paralyzing you
Incriminating your disdain

Sliding under the covers
Skin touching
Tracing every vein
Gods smiling at you
Energizing you
Excited you think-
How Insane!

She whispers
"I'm dead.
Revive me.
Bring me back that flame"

You act. React.
Play with her that silly game.
She falls in love
Sets fire to her past
Puts you to shame

You pick up and leave
Scared that you'll become
Useless, boring and tame

A year passes and another
Then ten followed
You were just about
Forgetting her name

Until one day it rained
And you saw her again

"Revive me." You said
"Bring me back that flame."

She did.

Tenderloins in Tinkertown

by Mark Hudson
The Windy City where the wind blows
Corruption wherever it goes
Back to the days of gangsters and crime
Governor Ryan's going to do some time
Was he innocent or was he guilty?
But ever since the day they built the
Prison to include many criminals
Some of the punishment was quite minimal.
Governor Ryan pardoned some death row-ers
Who were supposedly innocent sowers
He claimed they didn't kill those dead
But that's not what the families of the victims said.
They claimed the murders were real,
And there shouldn't have been an appeal.
Supposedly the cops tortured the guys
Forcing them to confess to some lies.
Who knows what we should really believe
The media has a tendency to deceive.
But the so-called killers got off scot-free
And if they kill again you know where they'll be.
If they're not killers their life was spared
But for civilian life they won't be prepared.
So Governor Ryan will be in jail for sure,
I don't know who will consider him pure.
Daley, on the other hand, has raised some eyebrows,
He's made Chicago famous for more than cows.
Some might think he's not being quite fair,
People who work for him think he's unaware
That they're being dishonest, like common crooks,
Someone's always messing with the books.
The first mess he created was Meigs field,
Causing a bunch of airplanes to yield.
He demolished the runaway overnight,
No longer allowing planes to take flight.
A bunch of pilots made a plan to sue,
But there really was nothing that they could do.
Then the Hired Truck program came next,
It left a whole lot of people perplexed.
Plenty of bribes brought some people into confession,
Daley mused on this with discretion.
So are these leaders honest or not,
Is Chicago the place where we spot
Politicians getting really greedy
While plenty of people are really needy?
Politics is pretty much a dirty profession
In order to be in it you need some aggression
Without that you won't get far at all
How else will you survive at City Hall?
In the end, God is the final judge
So don't you ever hold a grudge
Against killers, cons, and thieves
It is really God who always grieves
Only he's capable of comprehending
Where there needs to be amending
And I won't take our leader's inventory
I also don't have a perfect story
So Chicago is actually a great place to be
There's so much stuff here you can see
And politicians are gonna do what they will
They'll be making these mistakes until
The very end comes to a stand still
And justice will come and just then fulfill
The unanswered questions in human history
And no longer will there be a mystery.
And maybe then politicians will be peons,
And this is something that will go on for eons!

Straight to the Chaser

by G. C. Rosenquist
When you were eighteen, dear uncle, it was funny
Hilarious in fact
To see one open case of beer under your bed
Then it was two
Car crashes and a little luck
Dried you out
It wasn't funny any more

Whatever made you fall off again
After so many years
Only you know
This time it was a brick wall
That made you stop
Still, your luck held
And you lived on
Doctor said something smart that day
It could cost you an arm and a leg
Your latest median massacre
Proved he was only half right
Lucky again
We're still not laughing

You thirst for the worst
In human nature
So go on
Pop the tab
Twist the lid
Throw your head back
Into the mouth of the guillotine
Drink the cold mercury down
So you can feel real high
Swallow your pride and choke on it
Because the man in black has been chasing you
Might as well meet him half way
Now that's funny


by James L. Corcoran
When the mountains first opened in buckets of ore
workers died screaming as the gas filled their lungs,
so the foreman thought of a canary.

When the great rails were hurled across the continents
a man twirled one foot spikes into the ground
spitting and cursing them like dust to the tune of the whip.
The men groaned and the ground moved weight,
and they thought of a machine.

When the rubber wheels began to carry gallons of petrol
to and from the petrol stations metal gasped and twisted
in the fires that came as a result, and they thought of insurance.

Then when the computer came people saw the work that
ordered the trajectories of catapults of war. They brought
the machines into their homes where they sit like unicorn eggs.
When men thought about that they thought about the stars,
and great machines that cut, dice, slice, slap, press, fold, punch,

but when the first Sputnik lifted off its launch pad they
thought of an ape in the heart of a man. They knew
there would be passion, and they knew there would be pain.
They knew that it would take go with full tilt throttle up machine
against time for it to make man's dream come true, and gain.

They knew, as we know, that we must make our hope in space
come true. We can't just keep losing more people. When we leave
or enter a planet's magnetosphere we shed our sense of gravity,
but not our own identities. We slip like larvae into the universe with
our relationships, but we hurtle into a future where we have never
been. The future just owns us as if it does nothing wrong. Perhaps
the universe sees itself as some kind of intellectual nutrient for the
young people in search of answers. What will they think of next?

For Her

by John Pawlik
In a dream
Beyond reason
I held you in my arms

It was the season
Of feeling

It was autumn
The leaves of the trees
The gold of your hair

The air was cool
Your skin warm

Your face
Your eyes
I held you in my arms

It was a dream
And I was happy

Where Did the Rainbow Go?

by Dr. S. V. Rama Rao
Small and large groups of
polka dotted yellow feathered sparrows
semi ripened Jamun fruit colored Ramachiluka birds and
constantly fluttering multi shaped butterflies
just arrived from Mexico
banded together in unison
brake-dancing in curvy waves and straight rows
blending together into a make believe
bright colored wet rainbow
covering the borderless rain washed sky.

There appeared from nowhere
a group of boorish rowdy
bare chested cold blowing whirl winds
started dragging the rainbow art show
Having the face blood drained and white washed
the helpless forlorn sky stood still
not being able to find
even a speck of cloud
to support her morally or otherwise.

The ever hungry yellow sparrow groups
unable to bare the whistling winds
the delicate butterflies that could not
withstand the pushy brute winds
the shivering Ramachiluka birds
with ruffled feathers
in the cold blowing winds
started flying away - all of them
in different directions
the rainbow exhibition of the birds
began disintegrating in no time.

Watching the disappearing rainbow
in front of the eyes
the dumb rowdy group of the whirl winds
got confused and stunned
staring at the empty sky in disbelief
not knowing how the rainbow
got out of their hands.

Looking at the puzzled winds
the sky could not stop laughing until
her face turned wild cherry red.


by Donna Pucciani
Past the treeline
a place of no particular beauty,

just space, spreads out
enough to ask questions of sea and sky,

how high the apex of the far mountain,
why gray is the best color.

Below, the wren knows a secret,
something about how we will die,

falling off a branch
or caught in a cat's mouth.

Rain touches us
like the lost eyelashes of fish,

and the watery sun sets red
as the open cups of poppies.

The vapors of the pub in the valley
float among the lit cigarettes of stars.

Your hand covers mine,
the half moon of your thumbnail

no bigger than the whites of your eyes,
tender and civilized

in a world of iron and wood,
glass and bone.

(First published in Agenda)

In Search of Me!

by Dr. Sarada Purna Sonty
I am roaming in search of me
With wings stretched and feathers felt
I, on the timeless changeless stage
Can't stop the game of love and life
Trying to teach tongues silence
I may find the sundown rusty glow!
 Why should we have to know ourselves?
 We are living in the city of Soul
 All 'ways' are laid with islands and squares.
I am there just as you enthroned to govern our states.
Our fortune dances in our palms.
Let us shake hands building bridges
As imposing gender yielding to lunar touch
Love and philosophy play hopscotch
Can't but eyelids curtain mystic joy!
The scientist may laugh gloatingly!


by Wilda Morris
Plum-purple truth drips blood
across pages of history,
across prairies and rivers and diaries.
Its fist slams into sides
of mountains, bridges and breasts.
Its mouth devours all it desires:
dirt, deserts, and dresses.
Its boots battle, abuse,
kick against courage,
against compassion.
Where is the turquoise truth
which binds with soft scarves
not rough ropes, not scars,
the pastel pastiche of tender truth
that listens and loves?

Our Rock

by Thom Schmidt
For Dodie on her 92nd Birthday
The rock in the river
stands firm

in knowledge

That much has past
and much is yet to come

The cascading water is fleeting
a moment, here
and gone

The rock will go on
standing tall

Grounded in memories
of love
husband, children
and friends
that let her hold on

Let her stay strong

Hidden in God

by Patricia Gangas
You and I are hidden now, all roads back dissolved.
Though the sienna-soft spring has arrived
only the wind-striding rains come to call,
as they pour over the horizon.
You have filled me with Your brilliance,
so that the sun in its brightest angles seems quite dark.

Once the heart is overwhelmed,
its chambers become thick with grace,
spilling over the ridges of my bones.
I walk a path, white fresh, Your grip grafted on my hands.
Having shown me a part of Your Paradise,
the world now seems strange.

When the winter comes I will sleep in Your arms.
For the old days have been packed away like the nasturtium summer curtains--
the sheets embroidered with wings of geese--
all fingerprints of the past are huddled in my
brown-crested chiffarobe.

Somewhere long ago I heard Your wild echo
coming from all directions, crackling with vowels and consonants
of a heavenly language.
This day Your gold-sprayed voice has form--
we stand together as one…
as I love You completely,
moment by moment.


by Caroline Johnson
Standing in a river of fire,
swept in a swirl of swollen maples
now breathing in October's late
afternoon fashion show
like a lazy city tramp who has
lost his way and is
rustling in the leaves,
touching wicker bark and
wet, dark branches
like an operetta symposium,
it sings to us,
in shocking silence of golds, burghandies
with flames that leap towards quiet stillness.

Mauves and hydrangeas
and paint-by-number canvass
with soft brushstrokes someone has
fingerprinted happiness
and scattered the dreams of sunflowers
across Van Gogh's sky, leaving
lime green speckled bushes, baby pine,
dead logs, and deer that stop for the moment.

"You see this tree here?" he said.
"When we come back here again, it won't be the same."


by John J. Gordon
So much of my life
a pure solo flight
having no siblings
an appropriate start

Throughout each passage
deliberate decisions
assured I was driven
away from the crowd

Marriage and family
out of the question
no messy entanglements
cluttered my life

I chose avoidance
as trusted companion
dodging commitment
while inwardly turned

Overwhelmed by pain
my pleas for assistance
brought forth no response
repaid for aloofness

Unsure of the aftermath
born of my choices
awed by a silence
not heard before

I wait

Natural Theology

by Larry Turner
I drove down Modaff Road last Saturday
and saw a willow tree, its leaves blazing yellow
weeks after maples and ash had lost theirs.
I thought of this world adorned all over
with yellow willows and gave a prayer
to the God who screams excess,
the God who scorns economy.

I felt like those first microscopists,
who praised God and cried for joy
when their lens disclosed
the wing of a fly, the eye of a bee,
awe-struck by a God who after creating all this
waited thousands of years to reveal it.

You can't tell me
such a Falstaff of a God
values anything over joy.

Root Women

by Beth Staas
we are root women
gnarled and dry
beneath rocky soil and clay,
drab, gray and hidden
yet steadfast
for we hold up the earth.

(Published in Prairie Light
, Fall 2005)

The Professor's Passing

by Sally Calhoun
He had been a famous pacifist
among other things;
more than forty years had nudged along
since he had held forth at the podium and in the lab.

I searched for him, to write a chapter for a book,
as my Independent Study prof had directed me to do.

Down in the library archives there were fading school newspapers
with little flags in the margins for World War I.
I hunted for traces: a colloquium here and there,
a gathering of students at his house and, in old catalogs,
his schedule. Papers, books, and, elsewhere in the library,
the current learning texts that still present
his theories in all their brilliance.

I drew the profile of a very gentle man,
running rats through mazes in the lab, and,
out of sync with his pacifist views.

Did he lose his job?

I can't remember now.
I wrote that paper of him many years ago,
but I imagine him and his young wife
strolling by the lake,
tossing pebbles, watching ripples spread
until the waves dashed through their undulating arcs.

What did they see along their walks?

Deering Meadow?

Pathways under deciduous trees,
and bicycles.
Girls in long sleeves and skirts with piles of books,
boys (those still stateside) tossing baseballs.
Piles of rocks.

Boats on the water.

I found an address for the house where he and his wife had lived,
and my fiancé and I went there,
and found-a parking lot.

(Or was it a gas station?)

(From the collection Something Happened: Poems of Sea Change and Transition)


by Alan Harris
Back of our house
a lovable stray pooch,
young and off-white
with random black
Mendelian punctuation,
darts about and sniffs grassy clumps
until, eyeing a soggy tennis ball
wedged under the neighbor's fence,
she plucks it up in her teeth
and prances puppylike for attention
as if mankind needs to please play ball
(has she romped with children
before being dumped out of
their father's midnight-slinking car?),
seeming ignorant or heedless
that ball is not played
where she is going to go--
by way of famishing jaunts
through shrubby neighborhoods,
altercations with kept cats
and with collared mutts,
a trusting ride
in the dogcatcher's van,
and a meager feast or two
before the period
at the end
of her

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