Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
October 2007
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by John Pawlik
I am not this man
Lying in bed
Filled with food
Reading a book

I am the other one
Standing on the shore
Of a yet invisible sea

Beneath the light
Of sun, stars,
Snowy autumn moon,

Where from a distance
Not so terribly far

Someone I love
Is calling me home

Labor Day 2007

by Mark Hudson
Labor day, labor day
What would the neighbor's say
No one's keeping up with the Jones's
We'll have to be little Al Capones's.
No jobs, the economy's stinking,
In America, the lifeboat's sinking.
Put your faith in the almighty dollar
You'll still end up blue collar.
The government plans to downsize,
Some people will be serving fries.
Gas prices high as can be,
If you have a car, it's quite a fee.
If you smoke, I feel sorry for you,
Tobacco costs more than you knew.
That's how people deal with stress,
But it leaves yourself in a mess.
China makes toys with lead,
We should've made them instead.
But who would do that here,
We want money to instantly appear.
There's no free lunch in the U.S.A.,
But a soup kitchen might let you pray.
Even the government is arousing suspicions,
They're having trouble filling positions.
Resignations, Bush wonders why
Must be too much American pie.
I've talked to people unemployed now
People with jobs speculate how.
The news showed countries ship counterfeit pills,
Which won't help those already ill.
A friend who worked in a hot dog plant,
His boss said, " Work!", He said, " No, I can't!"
He whipped the hot dogs at the wall,
He's a social worker now, give him a call.
Some jobs try to convince you you need 'em,
But that is not my definition of freedom.
If America's going to survive, we all must chip in,
Before the terrorists give us a whippin'.
Tit for tat, although revenge is not sweet,
We can't keep killers off of the street.
We're so concerned about the foreigners,
Our own people send us to the coroners.
God kicked out of the universe he created,
The one who loved us is the one we've hated.
So on Labor Day, where do your finances go,
Do they go down the tubes, way down below?
Money is the root of all evil they say,
But I still will be happy on Labor Day!

Fire Extinguisher

by G. C. Rosenquist
My tongue is a flame-thrower
Spreading verbal wild fires
Through the dry forest floor

The flames are alive and clean
Breathing on your hot flesh
Until it turns to ash

There are cold, deep pools in your eyes
They can stop the flame spread
But never extinguish them

No, it's up to the pregnant gray clouds above
And a quiet, wet kiss in the storm
To put me out


by Ryan K. Sauers
Love smells like dozens
Of roses and strawberries
On a spring morning.

Anger is the mad
roar of a diesel engine, hot
oil, metal grinding.

Greed is the scent of
Money, crisp dollars, leather
Wallets, empty hearts.

Envy smells like brewing
Coffee, burnt and old like tar,
Smeared about like mud.

Bliss breathes like lemons,
Limes and fresh cotton floating
In the air forever.

Anthracite w/Phobos Rising

by James L. Corcoran
2017 finds us sending NASA pioneers
on a voyage to start a mining colony
in Martian fogs.

An average tour will take several years
and comfort will be a priority to encourage
record keeping and productivity.

"Attention Passengers! Security is our #1
concern. Please report any suspicious acivity
or packages to service operators."

Cargo vessels will travel through space
and routinely dock with differing assortments
of objects arriving at landlocked stations.

Robots will scurry and hurry buzzing through
tasks and jobs assigned to them and we will
muscle each other in our quest for cold water.

Still, I would love to be the first human on duty
that catches the dawning light of day on the red
soil as the glimmer of anthracite catches Phobos...


Remembering Tennis

by Patricia Gangas
Midwinter frost brings a white loneliness
as I return to days spent like a bird,
wheeling over the hundred grass green courts.
Storming strokes with their sudden gusts
drove my opponents back
as they battled to return my serves.
Silk strings of racquet gave me a warrior's heart,
as my strong body served up ceaseless strategies to win.
Year after year my love for tennis flourished
like my plot of sweet angelicas.
The variegated hues of passing shots, overhead lobs,
and volleys filled me with endless joy.
This game, fluttering and flirting, helped me forget
the vulgar world, and its busyness that never ends.
How I laughed and talked in the tryst of tennis matches,
weaving wills into the corners of courts.

Tonight I sip wine and watch the clouds,
caught in the nets of untilled spaces.
I reflect on the end of tennis:
old age came like an unbeatable opponent,
heartless, ardor cooled in the first winter gales.

I never thought this small happiness could end.

Eternal Silence

by Dr. S. V. Rama Rao
Being unseen
but making its existence felt to the host
the wild-natured mind
to satisfy its licentious desires
makes use of the youthful gullible host-body
cunningly holding forever
in its impregnable grip.

               Not knowing that
               the impalpable Paramatma
               is residing temporarily
               with the aloof-natured Atma
               in it's beautifully designed cage,
               forgetting the sanctity of its physique
               this alluring pompous host-body too
               perpetually craving
               the insatiable sensuous life,
               willingly be friends
               with the sweet-talking
               ever cunning mind.

But the life force
seeks its own course
after fulfilling the destined duty
of holding
the temporal mind and body
Obliterating the unconcerned life
led so far,
continues its tireless journey
hoping one more time
- after many a failure -
to become one with the
Eternal Silence.

I See Autumn In You

by Farouk Masud
Sitting alone (I'm sad to say),
Drinking a big cup of cola,
On a hill, on this mild fall day--
Reminds me of you!--dear Ola.
Your hair is like October trees:
Myriad shades of red and gold;
Your voice is an enchanting breeze:
Whispers of love yet to be told.
Your smile spreads like an airy pond
With its fountain causing ripples
Across my heart and far beyond--
Your harvesting of me cripples.
With mischief your eyes radiate:
An ether of deitous form;
These hallowed days you desecrate--
Our lamenting is now the norm.
Your feelings for me start to cool:
Fading, changing like this season;
Samhain chalks up another fool--
My lifeforce ebbs for this reason.
You hardly care and no one grieves--
Your transformation kills me too;
My tears descend like cold, dead leaves--
Murdered by the autumn in you.

9.11 and Heroes Came

by Tim Breitzmann
Evil from the sky did fall

The earth did shake

And towers fell

A pentagon, Four-sided now

A distant field, With cratered ground

Heroes they did rise
Heroes they did fall
Heroes that were lost

More did come
To take their place

Last messages are sent
I love you, Is what they said
I love you...

The sky so blue
This can't be true
This can't real
Please dear God... This can't be true

The evil doers
In shadows lurk
Soon noon will come
And shadows gone

But their brothers and their sisters
That stand with us, In innocence
Leave them be, For we are they

A day of horror
Of tears
Of sorrow

And yet...
This day of heroes
They give us, Hope

Twelve Lines

by William Marr
escaping from the boredom
of the soap opera
all afternoon
a colorful bubble
wanders the neighborhood
when people are at work
or in school

when it finally decides to burst
and give itself a last, loud clap
we hardly hear anything

as the world turns

Ice Sculptures

by John J. Gordon
A glittering gala glorifying
pursuit of physical perfection
invites only beautiful people.
Inside the gilded ballroom,
two stunning sculptures
command attention.

Guests fawn over these
models of male/female beauty.
Cameras click storing images
of near perfect icy visages.

Clever cosmetic surgeons
will soon be challenged.

Fabulous fashions, beauty briefings,
nip/tuck updates, intemperate drinking
and sumptuous dining
overwhelm the senses, overheat the room.
A faint “sweat” appears on the brows
of the two icy heads. An amused
reveler notes even beautiful people
occasionally perspire.

Time and temperature prove pitiless.
An unceremonious meltdown accelerates,
water dribbling from the sculptures'
mouths, eyes, noses.

Unnerved by visions
of dreadful disfigurement,
the crowd demands immediate
removal of these shrinking ice blobs.

Art imitates life!

My God

by Bonnie Manion
The God of my fathers
Is a stranger to me,
One to be feared in superstitioning.

But, my fathers gave me
God at their hearth and knee,
In spite of errors and tale-telling.

My God is much better
Than theirs, who frowned
From sword-filled heights and stormy crown.

My God is Father to one and all,
Maker of worlds, Savior of fallen,
Brother and Mother and Lover thorn-crowned.

Detasseling Crew

by Wilda Morris
Why did we sit mute
on the floor of the truck
stomachs knotted
while a tall girl with ratty hair
held a match under the foot
of the old woman?
Why just watch to see
what the woman would do?

That girl would have fit in
as a guard
in a prisoner-of-war camp.
She already knew
how to torture,
how to steal everyone's courage.

Why did we sit mute
on the floor of that truck?

(First published in
Out of Line, 2005)

Potential Side Effects

by Andrew Rafalski
So I thought
I had depression:

No life
no energy
no interest
no love.

"No problem !"
said the doc
"we now have
wonder drugs
for the blues."

I took the Rx

No more depression.

All I have now
are the minor
side effects:
dry mouth
aching joints
hair loss
bed wetting
blurred vision
and dyslexia -

But I'm real happy ! Happy Face


by Camille A. Balla
in the middle
of the window pane,
still wet with autumn's rain,
one golden-yellow leaf--
last of the front-yard birch--
on the outside
of the morning.

(Previously published in
St. Anthony Messenger
October, 2007)

My Sweet Mary

by Rick Sadler
I pray a journey through the rosary
To convey my love to the Virgin Mary
She has inspired me in so many ways
That will follow me all my days
I know that she will be there for me
I see her love that will set me free
I caught a rose from her hand
My gift of a prayer she'll understand
I wish to see her in the cosmic circles
I believe in her love and her miracles
Dear Jesus please listen to my prayer
For the Virgin Mary for whom I care


Dedicated to the Virgin Mary
Who inspired this poem

Cruising Altitude

35,000 Feet
by Donna Pucciani
These graduated bands of red, purple and brown
Rothko would have loved had he been alive
and staring through an egg-shaped window
bound for the stratosphere.

Violet and sepia overlap like slabs of bacon
waiting to be peeled back, the essence
of hydrogen and oxygen colored
by the sun's departing brush.

In the clutter of stowed suitcases, crossword puzzles,
plastic dinners and films depicting love and dinosaurs,
I distract myself for a moment, glancing up
from sherry and a book to meet the blood-blistered sky
with dry, red-veined eyes.

The cabin is stuffy, but above the fresh Atlantic blue,
I assent to the pressurized promise of air, tying up
my tired hair with the ribboned ether,
becoming mauve and umber between magazines
and a litter of small white pillows.

(First published in Jabberwock)

Pausing at the Old Cowcamp They Used to Cuss

by Glenna Holloway
Those twin saguaros on the edge of camp,
All pleated like accordians at rest,
Had handy arms for hanging up a lamp,
And each year pigmy owls reamed out a nest.
Afar, the trunks seemed one: the silhouette
Against the dawn as all the hands rode out
To work the herd until the sun had set
Reminded them of dancers, or devout
Old padres praying. Different angles changed
The image. Lonely cowboys always need
A good imagination. Theirs has ranged
For sixty years through rope and tumbleweed,
Through smell of branding irons, sweat and hide
To gritty words, and tunes in creaking leather.
Beside the fire they'd swap their visions, ride
Invention through the flames or falling weather.

Their kind are near extinction, and they know
This spot, just like the cactus plants, will turn
To splinters, dust, detritus, then will blow
Across their mindscapes as their lives adjourn
To look from viewpoints other than steer horn.
The windmill blades are gone, the cistern cracked,
Yet here they don't regret that they were born
To Western days before the cards got stacked.

Their shriveled monuments are brown and tilted,
Those spiny arms have almost rotted off.
As far as eyes can see, the land is wilted,
Instead of bawling calves, coyotes cough.
The old saguaros haven't fallen yet;
They lean together, closer than before.
Like these few men-- who never will forget
The myths, the truths. Already they're no more.

(Previously published in The Lyric, 2004)

Dream Poem to Violin

by Mardelle Fortier
I lie against flowing pillows
And I see flowers rising
Out of snow, watch crocuses
Unfold out of Winter's longing…
Petals satin as light fairy's wings,
Saffron such as a mortal
Could not conceive…glossy gilt
Only Sun could imagine.
Violin sings and in my mind
I paint bright irises
Dancing out of illusions of ice.
I cannot capture them
On paper unless I learn
Ancient Illyrian tongues.
Sleek narcissus, come, on your soft
Bed of green, rhythmically
Illuminate my verse
With nascent hue and scent.

Fast filmy visions, do not float away,
And leave me in a numb gray world
Of numbers and machines.
With pen I try to keep
Past peaceful islands, too soon lost.
On my cheeks, as violin fades:
Tears thin and silken as new leaves.

(Published in Quantum Pulp,
a Benedictine University
Literary Journal, Spring 2007)

Commuter Queries the Sun

by Alan Harris
My trusty train
hauls me orangeward
from this 5 o'clock
plastic city into
an on-time sunset.

Fried-egg friend,
over easy
in the wispy west,
innerly whisper me
what you are.
A star?
Yes, but are
you a you
or merely a major it?

May I commune
with you in
the hollow of
my heart?
Dissolve shallow
Understand you?

Humbly may I harvest
your richer spectrum
than my life
in the office

If I knew you,
would I be you?
To reach your light
must I groan with long
effort and escalation?
Or simply relax with
easy exhalation?

you fold
the shimmering cloudy
whites around your
blazing yolk and
drop away.

Breath of good night
is felt below
my horizon.

Suddenly I see
you shooting aloft
for thirty seconds
a brilliant vertical
shaft of orange
as if to acknowledge
we know we know
each other.

My train trundles on.

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